By Rob Lester, Talkin’ Broadway
With a playing time of an hour and five minutes, clarinet and sax player Evan Arntzen’s newest recording as leader gives us plenty of time to appreciate the sounds of individual instruments played by the seven men, soaring melodies, percolating rhythms, and five vocal tracks that enrich the celebration. But, as Countermelody‘s title and accompanying liner notes bring to our attention, while songs’ main melody lines and featured soloists naturally get primary and initial attention, a countermelody that’s part of the presentation can be especially rewarding to focus on, too. Any satisfying meal has its main course, but owes much to the side dishes, dressings and spices. This collection has a few originals composed by bandmembers and a few other things beyond the scope of what feels like the defining style choice—classics now a few years past their centennials or approaching that mark soon. In style and attitude, we’re often transported to the distinctive approaches of New Orleans music and early Chicago jazz. Read more here.