Alex Pinto photo courtesy of artist
Alex Pinto’s Parkside has presented a listening experience that is not only intimate, but also therapeutic. With styles comparable to Nels Cline, The Bad Plus, and even the great Muddy Waters, Pinto allows your mind to relax and dwell in his creativity.
At times you feel as if you’re right there with the guitarist listening to him play in his garage; other times you may picture yourself driving down an open highway at night, reveling in the flawless tonality of his musicianship. Each track seems to tell a different story, yet the album remains cohesive.
Alongside Pinto are musicians Shaun Lowecki on drums and Carmen Rothwell on bass. The rather luring effect of this album comes from its stylistic entanglements. It’s as if you drift in and out of different worlds of music, from rainy day blues to progressive rock distortion. One standout track is the opener “Parkside (Blues for Camille),” which begins with a faint reoccurring line that is riddled with warmth, building up to a beautiful conclusive jam that lifts the spirits. With a variety of aural inspirations that function as your personal soundtrack, Parkside is a thoroughly enjoyable experience from beginning to end.
Dmitri Matheny and his axe of choice – flugelhorn – stake their claim as worthy interpreters and contributors to the nocturnal longing of the best vintage noir.
Our soulful horn player kicks off his eleventh studio album with a nine-minute saga that sets the tone for a revisit to crime jazz. During the medley opener, Matheny and his collective weave together unforgettable sound bites from famous Noir scorings including Touch of Evil, Chinatown, and Blues in the Night.
The album impresses with its juxtaposition of jazz standards (“Stormy Weather,” “Caravan,” “Estate”) to creative fits like Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady” and the jaunty French hit “What Now My Love?” Two stunning covers are saved for the comedown; keys master Bill Anschell gives haunting performances during Polish composer Bronisław Kaper’s “High Wall” and the under-appreciated “The Long Goodbye” by John Williams.
Matheny tries out spoken word within Noir, his voiceover emulating his revered hardboiled detective heroes. On “Film Noir,” Matheny’s theatrical words soar atop Susan Pascal’s sultry vibes and the minimalist bass of Phil Sparks. This threesome regroups for a heartfelt rendition of “Here’s Looking At You.”
The cynical storytelling peeks on the album’s centerpiece “Crime Scenes,” a 12-minute original suite with a cool melody and feels of swing era San Francisco. This composition feels like the ultimate tribute to the world of world-weary cops, with romantic undertones of a dame who will “draw a chalk outline around your heart.”
With the help of a tremendous cast and a repertoire refined over two decades, Jazz Noir proves a sinister beauty for fans of rainy city nights and old school noir alike.