Machine Mass featuring Dave Liebman — Inti
(Moonjune MJR060, 2012, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-05-25
Saxophonist Dave Liebman has a career stretching back to the 70s, a resume that includes much expansion of jazz beyond its traditional sounds; Machine Mass (Michel Delville and Tony Bianco) have a somewhat shorter history, but have a similar penchant for taking jazz into new realms. In particular, the use of electronics features prominently, in part to fulfill the role of bass, but also simply to expand the palette of sounds available. While I have nothing against the use of guitar synthesizers on principle, I have to say I'm not fond of them being used to substitute for other instruments. If you want the sound of an upright bass, hire a bassist, for goodness sake. That being said, the proof is in the listening, and Inti sounds great. If you close your eyes, ignore the credits, and listen, you'll hear some outstanding playing from all involved, and likely won't realize that neither a bassist nor a keyboard player took part in the sessions. Liebman shines on tenor and soprano saxes, and ventures to wooden flute as well. His playing is stellar, managing to be edgy and melodic, intimate and expansive. And the combination of his organic sound with Delville's guitar results in a great balance of tones. The guitar eschews shredder clichés and gets out of the typical jazz-guitar box. Many of us are familiar with his work with The Wrong Object and Doubt, and here too he excels. Tony Bianco handles the drum kit admirably, at times swinging like a bop veteran, at other times slipping into free tempos and unpredictable sounds. While not without its (minor) shortcomings, Inti is a treat for jazz fans and those who like their guitar a little outside the standard fare.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.