Monday, July 24, 2017

Riverside - The New National Anthem (Greenleaf Music, 2017)

Following up on their debut release from 2014, Riverside is a collaborative group featuring Dave Douglas on trumpet, Chet Doxas on clarinet and saxophones, Steve Swallow on electric bass and Jim Doxas on drums. This album has very impressive instrumental playing and interaction along with interesting compositions. The album was recorded in the summer of 2015 and begins with "The New National Anthem," which has a choppy melody of bass and drums leading into "Old Country" which bursts open colorfully with strong brass punctuated by sharp percussion and electric bass. Douglas contributes a concentrated trumpet solo set to pulsating accompaniment before Doxas's saxophone joins in for a keen collective improvisation and a solo spot of his own. "King Conlon" has a crisp full band theme statement which is punchy and exciting evolving into a powerful trumpet solo over bass and drums. Chet Doxas switches to clarinet and swoops in unexpectedly over rolling drum accents, and the whole band comes together with excellent interplay. Hollow sounding clarinet and punchy brass push forward on the following track, "King Korn," making for a taut and exciting performance. Solo electric bass opens "View From a Bird" building a medium tempo and adding languid saxophone and trumpet along with subtle brushes. Shimmering cymbals and trumpet join in to frame the bass with eddies of sound and motion. "Enormous Tots" has a funky and friendly feel to it, with the horns strutting and swaggering over strong rhythm. They joyously chant a nonsense vocal before embarking on a sharp melodic improvisation, sounding like modern day hot jazz with billowing saxophone and drums. The music on "Demigods" slows back down to a medium tempo, with sympathetic musical motifs at hand. Subtle bass and percussion builds to a slow groove, gaining pace as the saxophone and brass open the music further over a subtle backbeat. Finally, "Americano" ends the album in excellent fashion, with strong bass and drums setting the pace for the stylish horns to enter. Douglas unleashes an excellent trumpet solo over tight bass and drums, then makes way for a fine saxophone feature over a gleefully primal beat. This was a good album, the band is really tight and makes the most of their experiences to create wide ranging music. This is a bright and accessible album that should be well received. The New National Anthem - amazon.com

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