Some of the elements that are the most interesting and inventive are tracks that revisit old territory like Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Chelsea Bridge’ or create a modernist impulse like Eric Bolvin’s composition, ‘The Fly.’ The former begins with a sweet solo interlude by Bolvin that is as soulful as dry tear on one’s cheek and its longing is picked up gracefully by the rest of his band. ‘Chelsea Bridge’ is cooked to perfection. ‘The Fly’ is different. It begins in a skittish, nervous way and this tension is never really relieved. There is a lot of outward emotion in the way Bolvin plays on this track. There are more risks in the playing and the piece is better for it.
‘Pindrop’ feels like a conundrum reminiscent of Miles Davis. It is an exquisite short piece that is like drifting through a modern suburb and suddenly spying a magnificent oak tree in all its splendor that has been left alone and somehow survived. ‘Ballad of Bear’ is a sad and worried piece that is like remembering where the cherry orchard used to be and where the memories have now been paved over.
The other pieces don’t fare as nearly as well. Instead of being distinctive, most of them they all flow together in a homogenous way. In this case, they sound and feel like a landscape created by a 1970’s residential suburb. The genuine feeling of place is replaced by an overly planned, too sterile, safe tract. It feels like you need a car to get anywhere. The streets are devoid of people and the community congregates in a big box, chain store.