For the Record: Choice Recent, Local Releases


45th Street Brass photo by Chuck Burgess

07-SkyThe Sky Is A Suitcase
The Sky Is A Suitcase


It is rare to find an album that not only dwells in complete serenity, but astute complexity. In their self-titled release, The Sky Is A Suitcase (Mike Gebhart, drums, Carmen Rothwell, bass, Levi Gillis, tenor sax, and Ray Larsen, trumpet) showcases a style of improvisation that brings back rebellion to jazz – it surprises, excites, and inspires.

Supported by a blanket of pulsating rhythm, the sounds created throughout the self-titled debut allow listeners to drift off into a hypnagogic state. One example of this can be found in the track “Marveling,” a piece that plays with the constructs of traditional arrangement, and leads to a complex style of question and answer from the horn players.

These songs are personal, and there is a palpable sense of reflection coming from each member in every arrangement on the album. Each track mimics a story, fading in and out of emotions, and there is an intense solidarity within these players. Once you’ve entered this aural dream state, you’ll never want to leave.

Print45th Street Brass
The Mothership and the Other Ship


This is not your typical second line brass band. The soundscapes created by 45th Street Brass are truly unprecedented. Whether it’s the deep growl of Peter Daniel’s baritone saxophone, the sensational wails from Jacob Herring’s trombone and Steve O’Brien’s trumpet, or the velvety melodies brought on by Dan Wager’s tenor sax, each song reflects a different vibe. The overall tones of each arrangement toy with a supreme style of versatility, leading us into funky sways to downright dirty swings. This type of division can most easily be heard between the tracks “Happy Dance Fun Time” and “The Mothership.”  With styles comparable to early arrangements of Charles Mingus, 45th Street Brass marches through a vast field of influences while still sporting their own idiosyncrasy. Listeners will find that even without a present rhythm section the group proficiently provides song structures and technicality that will keep you bouncing to the pulse.

– Connor Creighton


Posted on

June 22, 2016