Sound Underground - Quiet Spaces
Sound Underground is a compact trio with an expansive imagination. Their inquisitive approach is guided by words of wisdom from jazz legend Wayne Shorter: "You've got to go down in the basement and visit every note." Composed of saxophonist David Leon, trumpeter Alec Aldred and guitarist Jonah Udall, the collective steers through inventive textures far beyond the limits of its unconventional chamber instrumentation.
The trio's music emanates the warmth of its members' close friendships. They hail from far-flung corners of the United States - Udall is from Berkeley, California, Aldred from Waukesha, Wisconsin, and Leon from Miami, Florida - and formed in 2013 while living together in Miami, building the close personal bonds that ground their strong musical connection. One can hear it in their performance, which is infused with the kind of trust that can only be built over years, on the bandstand and off.
Intimate and conversational, Sound Underground's music traverses the lengths of acoustic jazz, and beyond. The trio draws on a broad array of influences including Americana and Bulgarian folklore, and stands upon influence from genre-bending luminaries such as Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre, Joni Mitchell and Jim Hall to distill a unique and deeply personal voice. They weave together these diverse sources with an uncommon penchant for storytelling, crafting intriguing narratives with each piece and performance. At once serious and whimsical, thought-provoking and smile-inducing, their music inspires emotional journeys that feel immediately relevant and true.
At the same time, the trio's textural transparency reveals a colorful heterophony: three compelling individual voices that are as different as they are complementary. Their divergent backgrounds create a musical dialog that is rich with personality. All exceptional composers and improvisers in their own right, the members of Sound Underground come together to produce a sum that is greater than its parts. The result is a sincere and striking reflection of who they are. Emanating from the soul, their music expresses their humanity unfiltered – embracing all of its subtleties and imperfections.
Sound Underground released its self-titled debut in 2014 with a tour of Eastern Europe, performing at major international jazz festivals in Bulgaria and Serbia. They have been on the rise ever since, touring on both U.S. coasts as well as returning to the continent. AllAboutJazz.com praised the trio as "a fresh sound... uncluttered and open... capable of grabbing a listener's attention and holding it indefinitely, " calling their debut "a highly enjoyable album that leaves one thirsting for its successor." With Quiet Spaces a captivating successor has arrived, inviting a closer listen.
On Quiet Spaces, Sound Underground pauses to look closer at the world around us, revealing the intricate beauty of details that pass by unnoticed. The trio turns these moments inside out, leaping through a wide range of textures and sounds on a journey full of surprises.
True to Wayne Shorter's mantra, a spirit of curiosity permeates Quiet Spaces. From beginning to end, the trio leaves no stone unturned. They question the tuneful themes of the opening "Tiny Kingdom" and the title track "Quiet Spaces, " reshaping them through wide emotional landscapes. On "Awake With A Start" they examine the moment of being startled and discover its multitude of hues in Leon's playful solo. Indeed, the three seem to find inspiration in the most unexpected of places. This is most apparent in the two-part "$2.43 Regular Unleaded, " which takes the hocketing beeps from a car door and a gas pump on a dizzying, mechanistic joy-ride.
An unmistakable characteristic of Sound Underground's music is the way they weave improvisation and composition together into a single musical fabric, spinning stories that have both careful craft and captivating immediacy. In "Trio Tune for Tal" the melody threads dissonance through triadic harmony, which Udall continues without dropping a stitch in his solo finger-picking odyssey. The attitude-laden jabs on "Me vs Me, " reminiscent of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, morph seamlessly into a repentant trumpet cadenza. The three are remarkably compositional improvisers – evidenced no clearer than in Udall and Aldred's deft counterpoint on "Strange Distance, " and Leon's solo on "Wanderer's Rondo" that seems to defy gravity. Several distant tours have given Sound Underground the experience to craft a thoughtful approach to their compositions, as well as the broad perspective to allow plenty of risk – fueling their perpetual evolution.
Recorded live and without isolation, Quiet Spaces creates a unique acoustic space that highlights the intimate personality of the music. This approach draws attention to the kinesthetic sounds of their playing – breath, key clicks, valve clicks, and fingers moving on guitar strings – bringing the listener into the room with them. On a few occasions they exploit the studio setting to create sonic spaces that are only possible here – the throbbing "A Moment Fixed in Amber" and the ambient dream-state at the end of "Now I Know."
From the ringing calls of "Tiny Kingdom" to the noble serenity of "A Postcard, "Quiet Spaces promises wonder at every turn.
Track (Composer) Time
1. Tiny Kingdom (Leon) - 3:01
2. Quiet Spaces (Udall) - 5:25
3. Trio Tune for Tal (Leon) - 5:40
4. Horseback In Faded Grey (Udall) - 4:10
5. $2.43 Regular Unleaded I. At the Pump (Udall) - 1:37
6. $2.43 Regular Unleaded II. On the Road (Udall) - 2:20
7. Me vs. Me (Leon) - 6:56
8. Awake With A Start (Udall) - 6:53
9. A Moment Fixed In Amber (Leon) - 1:37
10. Wanderer's Rondo (Udall) - 5:12
11. Strange Distance (Aldred) - 4:14
12. Now I Know (Udall) - 5:28
13. A Postcard (Aldred) - 1:41
Player and instrument:
Alec Aldred - trumpet and flugelhorn
David Leon - alto saxophone
Jonah Udall (you-doll) - guitars
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