Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hearts and Minds - Electroradiance (Astral Spirits, 2018)

An interesting manifestation of the ever evolving Chicago jazz scene, Hearts and Minds takes the experimentalism of the progressive wing of that scene and melds it seamlessly with the gritty blues foundation of the city's music. The band consists of Jason Stein on bass clarinet, Paul Giallorenzo on synthesizer and keyboards and Chad Taylor on drums and percussion."Back and Forth" melds grinding electronics with horn and crisp drumming, moving sharply forward, electric piano shading and filling the sound stage with color. Rapid fire drumming keeps things moving, with the softer and pastel hued bass clarinet adding wounded accents to the overall sound of the music, building to a free jazz improvisation that is very impressive and empowering. There is a quieter beginning to "Treeline," with instruments engaging in a hide and seek pattern before the bass clarinet and drums enter a raw sounding section, framed by subtle electronics. The music enters a supple collective improvisation, with twisting and turning bass clarinet and tight back beat and drum solo, with pulsating electronics. "Step'n" mines a tight groove with repeating figures, gradually building volume with the addition of synthesized sounds, giving everything an interesting and slightly off kilter vibe. The pace of the improvisation increases, growing more intricate, with a deep and resonant bass clarinet feature. A short fast blast of music, "Rivet and Roll" has a fast strong drum beat and ripe horn playing that spools out on a soft carpet of keyboard playing, and a collective performance that is short, sweet and memorable. "Electroradiance" has arcs of electronics and bass clarinet in space, with dark and ominous smears of sound evoking dystopian futures and frightening rough edges. This track leads directly into "Slowly Drifting Outward" which has more direct emotional feel for straight ahead drumming accessible electronics and swirls of airy bass clarinet. "Future Told" has a tightly wound approach to improvisation from a coiled theme, Stein plants his feet and delivers a riveting solo followed by a section for synth and drumming, with squiggles of electronic sound meeting strong drumming head on. When they all come back together to drive the performance home is when the real magic happens, as it does on the forceful "Relativistic" where the band plays a rousing three way free improvisation with scouring bass clarinet and drums, and oddly quiet electronic piano comping. "Slippery Slope" is a wonderful finale with strong electric piano comping and a crisp drum and cymbal beat inching this closer to the mainstream while Stein's angular bass clarinet blows in from all angles and directions keeping the music vibrant and visceral. Hearts and Minds - Electroradiance - Bandcamp

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