Matt Bauder – Day In Pictures (CF 210)
Day In Pictures is Matt Bauder’s first traditional jazz recording as the leader of a stellar acoustic quintet. Far from a debut, the young Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist already has a number of eclectic releases to his name, but none delve as far into the nuances of jazz tradition as this refined platter. His previous albums expand on his work as a sideman to adventurous peers like Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt and Rob Mazurek, including his electro-acoustic debut, Weary Already Of The Way (482 Music, 2003), and the improvised chamber music project, Paper Gardens (Porter, 2010), in addition to a trilogy of albums made with the collective trio Memorize The Sky.
Bauder’s studies with composers Anthony Braxton, Ron Kuivila and Alvin Lucier are readily apparent in his more experimental work; Day In Pictures showcases his fondness for convention. Flush with elegant melodies, lush harmonies and supple swing rhythms, the session demonstrates Bauder’s commitment to the art form’s more modest antecedents, with brief avant-garde interjections providing thematic continuity within the context of his existing discography.
Nate Wooley(widely revered as one of the leading lights of new trumpet technique) joins Bauder on the frontline. Wooley’s coruscating excursions add layers of rich textural depth to Bauder’s sinuous themes—when not plying sonorous refrains, as on the simmering lamentation “January Melody.” Angelica Sanchez’s tough yet tender pianism provides a perfect balance between freedom and form, gracefully interweaving with Jason Ajemian’s pliant bass lines and Tomas Fujiwara’s vibrant trap set ruminations, yielding a nuanced mosaic of tones, tempos and textures that offer subtly adventurous variations on the tradition.
Bauder shares ample solo space with his band mates, proving to be as resourceful an improviser as he is a writer. Whether on tenor or clarinet, Bauder excels at building narrative solos that seamlessly integrate euphonious lyricism and wooly abstraction. His probing tenor solo on the hypnotic opener “Cleopatra’s Mood” is emblematic, effortlessly juxtaposing diaphanous filigrees and whispered motifs with trilled flurries and gruff multiphonics.
A devoted student of jazz history, Bauder subtly invokes Wayne Shorter’s haunting introspection on “Parks After Dark,” drawing similar inspiration from Duke Ellington’s vivacious charts and George Russell’s elaborate arrangements on the punchy swingers “Reborn Not Gone” and “Two Lucks.” The dramatic arc of the album’s episodic centerpiece “Bill and Maza” recalls Mingus, with the opulent closer, “Willoughby,” hinting at the legendary bassist’s nostalgic streak.
Occasionally augmented by understated electronic effects, the date draws a subtle parallel to another sonic innovator, Rahsaan Roland Kirk—an iconic presence whose all-encompassing pre-Post Modernist aesthetic is widely championed in the Brooklyn scene. Although it represents only one aspect of Bauder’s talents, Day In Pictures is a beautiful record, presenting a well-crafted program of modern jazz that expertly balances past traditions with future innovations.