Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sound Assembly: Edge of the Mind

Beauport Jazz
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 6.3.09
Buy CD: Edge of the Mind

Sound Assembly is a 17-piece orchestra led by David Schumacher and J.C. Sanford, who composed, arranged and conducted this album's nine tracks.

Although Schumacher also is a saxophonist and Sanford a trombonist, neither performs as instrumentalists here. Their orchestra consists of five reeds, four trumpets/flugelhorns, four trombones and a basic rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass and drums. A female vocalist appears on one track.

Although the liner notes identify this group as a “jazz orchestra,” I must take exception. Readers of this column know that — for me — if it doesn't swing, it isn't jazz. This group does everything but swing. The musicians are excellent, flawless and well-rehearsed, but the compositions are complex in the extreme (altered chord structures and meters abound).

The result is music strictly for a concert hall. The album echoes some of the compositions done years ago, when Igor Stravinsky melded his talent with the likes of Duke Ellington and Woody Herman, It was avant-garde, but certainly not jazz.

One must appreciate the musical accomplishment and skill associated with this group, and the album certainly will intrigue those who enjoy abstract musical “art.” But Edge of the Mind is identified as “jazz” because of the personnel involved, not because of the content.

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