Dec 1, 2018
Jazz musicians are always looking for new and different ways to create sounds and textures to create music. One way is to use a non-traditional musical lineup – think Gerry Mulligan’s drummer-less quartet or recent groups sans bass like the Paul Motion-Joe Lovano-Bill Frisell or Vijay Iyer-Steve Lehman-Tyshawn Sorey trios. For six years, Sound Underground has used the unconventional lineup of saxophonist David Leon, trumpeter Alec Aldred and guitarist Jonah Udall to make intriguing chamber jazz. Their latest release, Power of Three, gives them yet another chance to reconfigure and reimagine how jazz can sound.
Collaborators since they were roommates at the Frost School of Music in Miami, the three create music that is challenging, and yet its intimacy lends itself to repeated listenings. No instrument is required to follow its traditional utility – for example, Udall’s guitar is not there exclusively to comp under solos before he takes his own turn. That duty may fall to the saxophone or one tune, or the trumpet on another. Further, their musical influences are so diverse - from Cool Jazz to modern chamber music, to Americana and Balkan folk music – that nothing seems to fall into a routine or musical rut.
I spoke with the three members of the group after Power of Three had its CD debut party at Lethe Lounge in New York, where the album was recorded in a day’s time this summer. We spoke of how the three members write and arrange – all the songs are originals, and all player contribute tunes – and how improvisation enters the picture, Musical selections from Power of Three include Alec Aldred’s“ Restful Rapture”, Jonah Udall’s “Demon Dance” and David Leon’s “Sun Stealer.”