Monday, June 21, 2010

Nobu Stowe - Confusion Bleue (Soul Note, 2010)

Keyboardist Nobu Stowe leads and interesting and exploratory blend on instruments on this album. He plays both acoustic and electric piano (and bells) leading a group of open-eared musicians through several interesting original compositions. Joining him are: Ross Bonadonna on guitar and alto saxophone, Tyler Goodwin on bass, Ray Sage on drums and percussion, and Lee Pembleton on sound (producer?) After a brief introduction setting the soundscape we are to hear, the group jumps right into the longest track on the album, "Premier Mouvement." Blasting off with thick bass and strong drumming, the music increases its pace with free and exciting ease. Electric guitar throbs underneath deep piano and stretches out at length employing a fascinating neon tone. The full band returns with great tumbling swaths of sound blending together to an awesome climax. "Duexieme Mouvement" opens with a funky beat and Stowe employing some gritty mid-70's electric Miles electronics and guitar accents. Strong collective improvisation ensues, with Stowe switching to acoustic piano and fighting to be heard over the heavy cacophony of bass and drums. Bonadonna's guitar then breaks out, wild and free, wailing like a banshee. "Intermede 2" is an eerie, spacious abstraction featuring bells, percussion and dusty acoustic guitar. It sets up like a soundtrack from a long forgotten western film before shifting to an electric piano and percussion feature. Raw fusion moves us back into the "Movement" series with fast and heavy electric piano and drums with rockish guitar providing the foundation of "Troisieme Mouvement." Bonadonna switch-hits on alto saxophone for "Quatrieme Mouvement," which builds to a frantic pace like a chase scence from a thrilling movie. Strong, fast and very exciting, saxophone flies over a rumbling foundation of low piano notes, throbbing bass and rapid drums. I've compared the music to film on a couple of occasions and I hope that Stowe and his band get a chance to do some film scoring. There is a visceral excitement to the songs on this album, whether they are working in post-Miles fusion or in open ended acoustic settings the music is continually interesting and deserves a wide audience. Confusion Bleue -

Send comments to Tim.