by Jeff Becker
Herbie Hancock has been quoted as saying, “music happens to be an art form that transcends language.” Music is the universal language and when three musicians form a group that is comprised of trumpet, alto saxophone and guitar, the conversation between the players becomes even more important. Sound Underground composed of saxophonist David Leon, trumpeter Alec Aldred and guitarist Jonah Udall is one such perfect example. On Quiet Spaces, the trio brings the language of the heart into musical view, with a revealing and intricate journey full of surprises. The trio turns these moments inside out, leaping through a wide range of textures and sounds on a journey full of surprises.
“Tiny Kingdom” opens with the trio giving a glimpse of the music texture to come, creating a landscape that builds with call and response figures, while each player takes a turn supporting and taking the lead, as in any good conversation, everyone gets a chance to speak. As if in a battle between silence and sound, each part is intricate to creating the whole, obscuring the fragility of the moment with flying musical passages and rhythms. The sound triumphs in the end, leaving the listener is a space of wanting to know more and appreciating the musical story just experienced.
“A Moment Fixed in Amber” introduces a stately guitar ostinato, soon pierced by the dazzling muted trumpet. The exotic nature of the conversation brings images of animals calling one another when the saxophone enters. The narrative takes the listener deeper into the exotic forest, the dark harmony is suggestive of an ominous cold mist filling the air. The track leads into the slowly galloping rhythmic feel of “Wanderer’s Rondo,” emerging the listener into the warmth of the unobstructed sun. The two horns convey the elegance and diplomatic melody, with twists and turns and musical surprises, one can picture the animals playing gracefully in the sun and enjoying life’s many bounties.
Quiet Spaces was recorded live and without isolation and because we can hear all the intimate breaths and mechanical noises associated with each instruments operation, the listener is drawn in to the space with the conversing musicians. They exploit the studio setting to create a sonic space that is ambient and captivating for the introspective intellectual. This expressive quality goes a long way towards giving Quiet Spaces its magical essence and musical pictures. Indeed, the album is a strongly programmatic concept, the listener is taken on a journey through a conversation between three friends. As we witness the progression of the conversation with sounds vividly portraying myriad shifts in the balance of topics, leading us through different moods, and even making us feel the ever-changing patterns of an imaginative story.