Dave Sumner, Bird is the Worm

Matt Ulery has opened things up on his label Woolgathering Records in 2018.  With many musician-run labels there tends to be a certain homogeneity, a sonic cross-pollination from the same musicians appearing on each of the releases, and the only real difference is whose compositions are utilized and the name in large print on the album cover.  Thankfully, the Chicago bassist’s latest salvo of recordings are as distinct from one another as can be.  We’ve got a quick rundown for you.

Let’s begin.


Russ Johnson – Headlands

The music of Russ Johnson leaves a heavy footprint.  Even though his works often provide musicians plenty of room to roam free, there’s typically a weightiness to it that speaks more to the earth than the air.  The resulting contrast of swiftly delivered music that possesses a lumbering mode of propulsion is more than a little bit compelling.  His latest, the 12-part Headlands suite is a study in that contrast… plus something more.  The suite includes several “transition” solo sections from the musicians, and their feather light presence adds a textural element that brings out a side of the music’s personality that might otherwise not be so evident.  Plenty here to like.

Your album personnel:  Russ Johnson (trumpet), Rob Clearfield (piano), Matt Ulery(bass) and Jon Deitemyer (drums).

Music from NYC.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon


Matt Ulery – Sifting Stars

There’s always been a big sound to the compositions of Matt Ulery.  His early recordings with his Loom ensemble gave plenty insight into that potential.  Even with a smaller ensemble, there was a strong hint of the roaring fire that lay at the heart of the music’s burning ember.  It emerged definitively on his 2012 release By a Little Light, where the immensity of the sound reflected the expansion of the ensemble.  His latest recording, Sifting Stars, continues that arc of large orchestra music, as well as exhibiting his talent as composer.  While he’s clearly settled into this style, none of his music for orchestra recordings sound anything alike.  That’s a promising sign, and, for you, a nice selection of albums to choose from.

Grazyna Auguscik makes a return on Sifting Stars, as do Ulery collaborators Rob Clearfield, Chad McCullough and James Davis in the 23-piece orchestra.

Music from Chicago, IL.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon


Tim Haldeman – Open Water As a Child

If this title sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because you recently read my write-up of Tim Haldeman‘s outstanding new release as part of my latest Best Jazz on Bandcamp column.  What began as a one-off performance at the Ann Arbor Jazz Festival, this homage to Flint, Michigan has resulted in the stunning Open Water As a Child.

I’m not going to rehash anything written previously on The Bandcamp Daily, but I will add that this recording resonates like mad, and with a strength that just keeps gaining intensity with each subsequent listen.  While it’s common wisdom to give a recording several opportunities to forge a connection, it applies here more than most.

Your album personnel:  Tim Haldeman (tenor sax, flute, piano), Dan Bennett (alto sax), Justin Walter (trumpet), Jordan Schug (cello), Jonathan Taylor (drums), Ben Willis(bass) and John Goode (vocals).

Music from Ann Arbor, MI.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon

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