|Photo: Sara Pettinella|
|Photo: Pablo Reyes|
The sky's the limit with "Open Sky", yet one more exemplary display of the talent of Art Hirahara. His songs surround the listener, leading he/she in for an hour of delightful songs, fine musicianship, and, like the title, a sound that makes one to sit outdoors and let the breeze brush your shoulders as the music moves forward.
For more information, go to http://arthirahara.com/. To hear more and to purchase the music, go to https://arthirahara.bandcamp.com/album/open-sky.
I must admit to not hearing any of the albums of the group Slowly Rolling Camera before the trio's new recording "Where the Street Leads" (Edition Records) arrived. The brainchild of Dave Stapleton (Fender Rhodes, piano, Moog), Deri Roberts (electronics), and Elliot Bennett (drums), the music obliterates genres on each song. There are dance beats, swirling string sections, and excellent contributions from guests Mark Lockheart (soprano and tenor saxophones), Stuart McCallum (guitar), Jasper Høiby (double bass), Verneri Pojhola (trumpet), Chris Potter (tenor saxophone), and a stunning performance from vocalist Sachal Vasandani.
Here's the opening track, inspired by the protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, "Groundswell":
|Photo: Dave Stapleton|
Adding the voice of vocalist Vasandani is a stroke of genius. The medium-tempo ballad "Illuminate" puts his voice in the midst of the keyboards and Bennett's active drums. In the last 90 seconds, McCallum steps out with an emotional solo with the addition of the vocalists repeating "Who are you...who are you...can you do this?" over the middle of the guitar phrases.
Chris Potter is featured on "Feels Like Fiction", joining the song two minutes with a strong tenor spotlight. McCallum also solos with the strings shimmering all around him (Stapleton's string arrangements for the eight-member ensemble are often dazzling and alway supportive). Lockheart steps out on soprano for a short statement before the Morse-code like keyboard notes bring the piece to a close.
"Where the Streets Lead" closes with "A Force for Good" with Verneri Pojhola's breathy trumpet lines supported by the circular keyboard phrases and the rising lines of the strings that then begin to soar as Lockheart's soprano swoops and dives around them. The piece closes with gentle piano lines under the the trumpet which soon fades as the music slowly comes to its end.
Slowly Rolling Camera makes music that is too powerful to be called New Age, too funky to be Jazz, too jazzy to be Funk, and too acoustic to be called Electronica –– So, what is it? Who cares what you call it. Just sit and let the sounds flow over you, get lost in the repetitive keyboard phrases, move your feet to the often-dancing drums. And enjoy!
For more information, to hear more, and to purchase the recording, go to https://slowlyrollingcamera.bandcamp.com/album/where-the-streets-lead.
Here's the title track: