Jonathan Finlayson’s Debut As a Bandleader Is Everything You Would Expect
Jonathan Finlayson may have grown up as the teenage wunderkind in Steve Coleman’s Five Elements, but he has a distinctive, lyrical voice as both a trumpeter and composer. Moment & the Message, his debut with his ensemble Sicilian Defense – pianist David Virelles, guitarist Miles Okazaki, bassist Keith Witty and drummer Damion Reid - is one of the most auspicious in recent memory. This album resonates on an emotional and intellectual level, packed with melody, depth and ideas worth stealing. The Coleman influence is there, no question, especially as far as counterpoint and a more or less continuously dancing rhythm is concerned. Finlayson’s tone is more bronze than brass: lively as this music is, there’s a lot of gravitas here. Verelles gets the enviable task of nailing that dark riffage, sometimes with echoes of another dark but irrepressibly funky pianist, Marc Cary (who has a phenomenal Abbey Lincoln tribute out recently).
The opening track, Circus, is a diptych, a playfully dancing, bouncy theme with a long series of eighths from Finlayson, followed by a brooding, almost stalking modal march anchored by Witty’s sepulchral washes. Bad segue, good music. (WARNING – SPOILER ALERT) Lo Haze works a very clever trajectory: it takes the old trope of stating the head and then messing with it and works it backwards. By the end, this majestic, shuffling march has become a gritty, minimalist soul theme, coalescing methodically through many divergences. Ruy Lopez segues out of it with nonchalant conversations between Finlayson and Okazaki, and later Reid and Virelles. Carthage is portrayed as a vibrant if somewhat ominous place, fueled by Virelles’ emphatic, hard-hitting lefthand.
Tensegrity shifts from an artful, baroque-tinged acoustic guitar intro to a wry scramble between Virelles and Reid, in contrast to the serioso melody. Le Bas-Fond also leaps out of an impressionistic intro, this time from Virelles – it’s the most trad, solos-around-the-horn type thing here. Okazaki’s nimble, spot-on vintage 60s staccato soul guitar spices the insistent chords and tersely pulsing trumpet melody of Tyre.
The big epic here is Fives and Pennies, a tone poem that slowly emerges out from under the piano lid – literally – to a long, methodically wary Finlayson solo and finally some unleashed menace from Virelles on the way out. They return to animated and somewhat more relaxed form to wind up the album with Scaean Gates. Pi Recordings, home base for many of the Coleman posse, gets credit for this one.
July 6, 2013 - Posted by delarue | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | album review, Damion Reid. music, David Virelles, jazz, jonathan finlayson, Jonathan Finlayson moment message, Jonathan Finlayson moment message review, Jonathan Finlayson review, Jonathan Finlayson sicilian defense, Jonathan Finlayson sicilian defense review, keith witty, marc cary, melodic jazz, miles okazaki, modern jazz, music review, pi records, steve coleman
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ABOUT LUCID CULTURE
April, 2007 – Lucid Culture debuts as the online version of a somewhat notorious New York music and politics e-zine, which then ceases publication. After a brief flirtation with blogging about global politics, we begin covering the dark fringes of the New York rock scene that the indie rock blogosphere and the corporate media find too frightening, too smart or too unfashionable. “Great music that’s not trendy” becomes our mantra. For a glimpse of the early years, here’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek interview with one of Lucid Culture’s founders.
2008-2009 – world music, jazz and classical become an integral part of coverage here. Our 666 Best Songs of All Time list becomes a hit, as do our year-end lists for best songs, best albums and best New York area concerts.
2010 – Lucid Culture steps up coverage of jazz and classical while rock lingers behind.
2011 – one of Lucid Culture’s founding members creates New York Music Daily, a blog dedicated primarily to rock music coverage from a transgressive, oldschool New York point of view, with Lucid Culture continuing to cover music that’s typically more lucid and cultured.
2012-13 – Lucid Culture eases into its current role as New York Music Daily’s jazz and classical annex.
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