Fade In, Cut, Dissolve…

January 18, 2009 at 2:42 pm 1 comment

CDbaby

Source: CDbaby

Rob Mosher‘s Storytime — The Tortoise (self-released, 2008 )

An ambitious album of modern big band (well, 10-tet) music with movie-soundtrack atmosphere, particularly in the solo moments for instruments like the french horn and oboe. I’m guessing the “soundtrack” feel is the entire point, given the look of the CD packaging — the band is listed down on the bottom, horizontally, like the credits on a movie poster. Think of those moments in ’50s/’60s movies when some grand landscape or gorgeous outdoor springtime scene unfolds. The music doesn’t just float; it’s got definite beats and melodies, and plenty of jazzy soloing. Neither is it completely retro, as in the use of electric guitar (not a jazz guitar either) on a few tracks. The sentimental, happy-ending feeling can be nice at times, but it sometimes hits my ears like unchallenging classical music.

Still, there are some impressive moments. “Jupiter” has a strong pulse to it, coming across like a hefty modern big-band chart with Mosher dishing out a solid solo on soprano. I found myself drawn into the peaceful flow of “Twilight” (another guitar-heavy track) and the 7/8 ambling of “Joy,” a pleasant track that surprisingly dissolves into free chaos. The goofing around on the appropriately titled “1920s Car Chase” is irresistable, as is the quasi-bossa nova “The Sands of Maundune.”

But I’m turned off by moments like the horn lines near the end of “On a Clear Day,” putting a sappy kind of Hollywood mystique onto an otherwise snappy track. Likewise, “Silhouette of the Man in the Fog” gets into a tough-digging, bluesy place with Brian Landrus soloing on baritone sax against Nir Felder’s guitar … but then Mosher comes in with sweet-toned oboe lines, and that film-noir feel just dissipates.

That’s my problem with much of the album; I’m not a fan of traditional movie music, so I don’t agree with many of the directions here. I do think it’s wonderful that Mosher can get a project like this recorded — it’s certainly not going to get airplay on cloistered, Miles-obsessed jazz stations — but I’ll stick to the more jazz-oriented tracks as opposed to the soothing satin of “The Forgotten” or “Twilight.”

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