Audrey Ochoa deciding to call this album Frankenhorn seems utterly apt. Between her impulse to be a “stirrer up of the normal” on an instrument that is – among the brass family, at least – the most “dysfunctionally sapient” (to coin a phrase). And then there is that small matter of her playing being achingly poetic even when she’s being musically facetious and rambunctious. All of this makes Miss Ochoa charming and dangerous at the same time, and that too, irresistibly so.
Once again on this recording Miss Ochoa has also shown herself to be a magical writer of songs. She evoke even the most crass forms such as “rave” and “garage”, strip them of their crassness and make them wholly new. The graphic is an eerie representation of some of the repertoire on this recording. But if you think that it reveals anything about what to expect, you would be fooling yourself. Every song comes with a surprise – “Huggy Dance”, for instance with its electronically manipulated harmonic patterns by the mysterious Battery Poacher is the epitomé of tenderness; a ballad so beautiful that it could make you moist eyed not the least because of Miss Ochoa’s masterful turn on the instrument as she literally “sighs” the emotion into the melody.
Of course Miss Ochoa can swing with delight and this she is keen to highlight right out of the gate – with “Swamp Castles” and “Bunganga”. She can roar like a feral beast as well and does so with visceral excitement on the latter chart. She can also do all manner of other wonderful things on the trombone – such as growl elementally and wail with human smears (“My Reward” is a classic example of this) or play just play time especially with a bassist Mike Lent (on “Swamp Castles”, “Silver Linings” and “My Reward”). Her arrangements are dark and when played in her radiant manner and with a group of musicians who are completely attuned to her vision and artistry this is a something wonderful to behold.
Finally, this music is captured with appropriate darkness, moistness and in a wonderfully warm acoustic by Stew Kirkwood (his ability to hear each frequency range and reproduce it the way the human ear hears sound and not as a console decodes it, must make him – along with Chad Irschick) makes this recording to absolutely die for both aesthetically and (for the audiophile in all of us) technically as well.
Track list – 1: Swamp Castles; 2: Benchwarming; 3: Silver Linings; 4: The Huggy Dance; 5: Bunganga; 6: Groundhog Day; 7: Postcards; 8: My Reward
Personnel – Audrey Ochoa: trombone; Chris Andrew: piano and keyboards (2, 4-7); Sandro Dominelli: drums (1, 3); Mike Lent: bass (1, 3, 8); Luis Tovar: congas (2, 5); Raul Tabera: percussion (2), Rubim de Toledo: bass (5); Kate Svrcek: violin; Shannon Johnson: violin; Ian Woodman: cello; Special Guest – Battery Poacher: remix (4, 6)
Released – 2020
Label – Chronograph Records (CR080)
Runtime – 38:24