Sunday, February 17, 2019

John Raymond - Real Feels Live Vol. 2 (Sunnyside, 2019)

The band Real Feels is comprised of leader John Raymond on flugelhorn, Gilad Hekselman on guitar and Colin Stranahan on drums. They organized an extended tour for over four months that led them to refine their approach to the group's music, culminating in this recording of the final show of the tour at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. On the track "Minnesota, WI" the guitar probes as delays and pedals play with time and space, while the flugelhorn glides in with a full broad sound as the drums kick in and provide a firm foundation. Guitar and drums work well with the strong and supple brass element, electric guitar stretches out over pulsing rhythm, providing neon tones that retain the dreamlike quality of the composition and expand upon it, developing a stellar questing solo, taken at length and incorporating some stinging rock tinged elements with exploratory improvisation in a very impressive fashion. Raymond's flugelhorn re-enters and flies high, taking advantage of the ground furrowed by the guitar and drums to deliver a punchy and echo enhanced statement of his own. "Be Still, My Soul" has gradually building horn and guitar tones along with subtle brushwork, and long arcing lines giving the music a pastel hue, as they gradually fill in the available soundstage, increasing in volume and intensity. Stranahan moves to drumsticks and pushes things further along, developing complex rolls and goading the guitar and horn to greater flights, as they move into a successful collective improvisation that stays true to accessible melody while reaching for power and freedom. The lengthy track "Joy Ride" follows with light touches of guitar skittishly played, along with naked and unadorned fugelhorn in open space. Spacious percussion is added as the track gradually takes shape, and the group builds a jaunty tune. Raymond's tone is smooth and tasteful, moving pleasantly among the guitar and drums at a deliberate pace, with a strong improvisational mind. They move into a nicely spirited collective improvisation that draws on everyone's talent equally before allowing for a quality duet between guitar and percussion that is full of energy, enthusiasm, and determination. Raymond then rejoins them as they make a strong move for the finish line after an excellent performance. Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'" is the finale, played as a subtle and respectful ballad, where the melody hinted, and then used as a springboard for a delicately complex and understated improvisation and performance. This was a very good album of mainstream jazz, The band reached a fine balance between songform and improvisation oriented material which worked as well on disc as it did in person. Real Feels Live Vol.2 - amazon.com

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