It never pays to be fooled either by the name of an ensemble, the title of a recording or even by the titles of the songs on that recording, for that matter. Perhaps Cowboys and Frenchmen could have been more careful with this title, Rodeo, which suggests a wild, roistering American sport from way out west. Perhaps they could have been smarter about song titles so as not to suggest some kind of obscure ritual in a frat house. But as the proverb goes, you never judge (a book), or in this case, a record by its cover. So it pays to get beyond the package and spin the CD.
Now a whole new world opens up before your imagination and your ears. Fooled You may have been a more appropriate title for the recording – at least that’s what this wonderful ensemble has done to the unsuspecting listener. Listen to how Cowboys and Frenchmen dismiss such shallow judgement as above. From the very start you hear ‘Jazzy Styles’ bustling with energetic rhythm with no real hint of a tune. The shuffling beginning is soon changed, by contrast, into one that is steeped in which extended melodic phrases open up with unpredictable grand gestures followed by arresting silence. And then the beauty of this album opens up…its slow unfolding is spellbindingly delivered from ‘King Barry’ onwards.
Two alto saxophones or saxophone and clarinet, even saxophone and bass clarinet and the possibilities according to this truly inventive group are limitless especially when the music is imbued with intensity and imagination on songs such as ‘Brode’s Abode’, which emerges as a constant stream of new colours, emotions and effects. Particularly striking is the wonderful impressionistic piece ‘Bells of Mindfulness’ which features more wonderful and ethereal saxophone work by Ethan Helm and Owen Broder, glued together by Chris Ziemba’s piano, Ethan O’Reilly’s bass and Matt Honor’s drums. This is music that is triumphantly modern as these four young musicians demonstrate.
Track List: Jazz Styles; King Barry; A Bridge Inside My Mind; Man of Constant Sorrow; Because; Brode’s Abode; More; Bells of Mindfulness.
Personnel: Ethan Helm: alto saxophone, flute and clarinet; Owen Broder: alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet; Chris Ziemba: piano; Ethan O’Reilly: bass; Matt Honor: drums.
Label: Outside The Music
Release date: November 2015
Running time: 52:46
Buy album on: amazon