SAMANTHA BOSHNACK'S SEISMIC BELT
Live in Santa Monica
(2019 - Orenda Records - USA)
The 'Ring of Fire' indeed. This stellar live performance, commissioned and premiered at 18th Street Arts Center in California, is so pristine that one would swear it was a grand studio recording. Except for the tastefully mixed audience applause (which is not upfront, but at a relative distance in level) you are assured of every nuance and bonus of a closed recording session. It may be coincidence but some of the most outstanding live releases have come out over the last couple of years. This is one of them. The concept 'Seismic Belt' is based on the Ring of Fire (home to the biggest number of volcanoes and many earthquakes) located in the Pacific Ocean, in the region Samantha lives at present.
It may be hard for anyone to imagine these eight rich, with tapestry and spunk, compositions are being played by only seven musicians, but the thrilling performances are by Samantha Boshnack (trumpet, flugelhorn and all compositions), Ryan Parrish (tenor and baritone saxophones), Paris Hurley (violin), Lauren Elizabeth Baba (viola and violin), Paul Cornish (piano), Nashir Janmohamed (double bass), and Dan Schnelle (drums). Ryan Parrish and Lauren Elizabeth Baba are from Lauren's incredible theBABAorchestra - 'Another Ride on the Elephant Slide' (2017 - Thirsty Owl Records - USA), which I reviewed with glowing accolades. These two women (Baba and Boshnack) are new and spectacular voices in the world of avant-jazz and outstanding composition, so it is with honor I have been exposed to their music.
The music of 'Seismic Belt' is generously playful and adventurous. Each piece has multiple elements of styles from varied early jazz, lots of swing, a wide scope of dynamics, boundary jumping measures, and incredible dexterity (both mentally and physically). The entire event is first class throughout. The complex rhythms keep you on the edge of your seat and demands attention to that marvelous mind you have. This is big band done in a premium way, sometimes kiting all over the stage, only pausing for the occasional intimate trumpet solo, so soothing to the soul, or a quick side step for stand up bass, violin and quiet drumkit to make entrance for more peppy syncopated orchestration. It sounds like a perfect collision of her B’shnorkestra (her other larger ensembles of 14 members), and her Sam Boshnack Quintet, both having multiple ingredients, but the mixture is large scale orchestrated and then small details magnified among the majestic.
In the show, there are so many great jazz and classical composers that you may be reminded of (too many to list in fact), with some truly wonderful string arrangements, but nothing overshadows the astonishing style blend that Samantha Boshnack has created here. Her 'Seismic Belt' is among the best avant-garde bands I have ever heard. A beautiful package with glossy cover and gatefold physical CD, including details of each piece. FURIOUSLY RECOMMENDED.