Sound Assembly’s music is part abstract and part traditional jazz making the tracks sound completely original as this 17-piece orchestra works through the twists and turns in their harmonic forms. Led by the duo of David Schumacher and JC Sanford, Sound Assembly create a balance between traditional idioms reflective of concepts administered by such luminaries as Bob Brookmeyer and Thad Jones with contemporary layouts and improvised voices. Sound Assembly take audiences through an expedition of kaleidoscopic proportions in the group’s debut album Edge Of The Mind. Produced by John McNeil, David Schumacher and JC Sanford, Edge Of The Mind is a title which is derived from a term used in kite flying, and discussed in the album’s liner notes as, "The space in which a kite flies is called ‘edge of the window.’" Schumacher and Sanford converted the window part to represent the human mind, although they do use "Edge Of The Window" for the title of the one of the tracks on the album. The group’s compositions convey this sensation of flying freely by triggering sharp turns, lush spins, crisp dives, and glorious suspensions while cabled by the bold strokes of the rhythm section. It is an album whose artistic inclinations are the crux of the pieces.
The disc emerges with "Breaking Point" whose surging horns create densely populated flourishes, which are dimpled by swift rhythmic beats and scorching guitar rotations. "Edge Of The Window" reduces the pace to a casual stroll forming well-honed consonance in the horn section and dainty ripples in the rhythmic beats. Concentration is placed on developing the swerves in the melodic lines while maintaining a horizontal plane like in "Slide Therapy" which is winged by woozy trombone glissandos and billowy clarinets. The soft kettling clicks of the drum sticks hold the piece firmly while the horns go off into a series of dizzy swerves. "Chuck n’ Jinx" has a classic swing jazz form which Schumacher tells in the liner notes, "is an homage to Thad Jones." Keeping in line with traditional jazz idioms is "The Radiance Of Spring" with floating horns and graceful vocal glides performed by singer Kate McGarry. It is the type of tune that lets you rest your head on its plush carpeting. "Rhythm Of The Mind" features dueling clarinet solos as the remaining horns dance exotically through the drum fills. Conversely, "My Star" is arranged with a series of rising and descending chord progressions with intervals that exert a sensuous rhapsody and zealous spins. The haunting piano intro of "Ives, Eyes" has a seductive appeal, while the crazed energy of "BMT" has the musicians spilling all over each other in a haphazard fashion.
The gist of these pieces is to preserve the beauty of traditional jazz while expanding on contemporary forms. Schumacher explains this idea in a recent press release, "The music in a piece has to evolve in a way that is inevitable, yet still has room for surprise. I want the solos to come out of the music so naturally that you can barely tell where the chart ends and the players inspiration begins." Instruments mill around anxiously and interweave into a maleable assortment that entertains and widens people’s perceptions of what a 17-piece orchestra are capable of designing. Edge Of The Mind is to the jazz world what the edge of the window is to kite flying, a chance to fly freely while still having bearings that hold it down to earth.