Second Movement’s self-titled CD is truly a fresh sounding and understated album boasting great instrumental funk jazz music. Lead by Thomas Shaw’s keyboard work and Matt Tredwell’s drumming the New York based quintet introduces this project with "Featherweight" a song that took only two takes to record contributing to the live studio feel.
"We wanted everything to sound fresh and not canned or too overproduced to give the listener an accurate representation of what they might hear at a live show," says Shaw before adding, "My feeling and the feeling of the band is (our) music derives a good deal of our creativity and spirit from live performance and group interaction within the moment. We spent a good half day at the outset with our engineer Jason Marcucci getting sounds that we liked. Then he sort of let the tape roll."
My feeling and the feeling of the band as it was configured at the time was the music derived a good deal of its creativity and spirit from live performance and group interaction within the moment.
Second Movement’s CD draws considerable inspiration from the early seventies period of Herbie Hancock’s career. Shaw claims the big rhythmic elements in Second Movement’s music can be attributed to the influence of Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters’ music.
The third track "Moonlight Weightbelt" blends a sixties psychedelic funk groove with Shaw’s electronic keyboard enhancements and Justin Kimmel’s tune comes off with style. The relationship between rock influencing jazz and vice versa is more evident when you listen to the electronic chops of "Moonlight Weightbelt" and then spin rock group Smash Mouth’s "Walking On The Sun". Kimmel also penned "Anything But Reason" and "Spellbound".
As the Second Movement’s "The Hup" with its 6/8 beat reaches our ears another element in the band’s music surfaces. "Guitarist Mark Hanna brought in the Afro beat," says Shaw, "We all enjoyed the musical idea of layering rhythmic phrases that contributed to a much larger groove. I have a fondness for "The Hup" that was written out of a wick that Mark brought in."
There are some other treasured jewels on this record such as "Ev’ry Man A King" which Shaw says pays homage to the influence of New Orleans on Second Movement’s music.
"Between The Sheetz" treats us to the great horn of alto sax man David Caputo. The saxophone is prominent throughout many of the charts and Shaw says, "The horn is closest to the voice and by accentuating the horn we wanted to emphasize the melody. It is really a function of wanting the melody to be out there, upfront and clear."
The unfortunate part for Second Movement is despite their great grooves they often wage an uphill battle in a club scene and radio market that continually tries to pigeonhole and category define the music of artists. "I think because we are trying to do music that is so original and a bit out of the ordinary people don’t know what to make of it. It is a long haul cultivating an audience, trying out the material and at times tailoring it to suit an audience," says Shaw. He says because the band is completely instrumental, " A lot of clubs won’t look at you unless you perform music with vocals," which strikes this writer as a bit odd since there was a time in the history of clubs and piano lounges when it seems purely instrumental music was on a level playing field with acts that had singers. At any rate, the smart club operators will clue in soon that Second Movement’s music far exceeds the talent of lesser-gifted ensembles with mediocre warblers.
In the past two years, Second Movement has undergone a face-lift with David Caputo leaving and Heath Walton bringing his tenor sax to the group. Joe Young has come on board as the guitarist and Kyle Nix now plays the electric bass guitar. Matt Tredwell still keeps the beats. Now that Justin Kimmel has departed, Thomas Shaw has become Second Movement’s primary songwriter.
The band has already attracted a strong fan base along the eastern seaboard with steady gigs throughout New York State, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont and Washington DC. The quintet appears regularly at the Groove just down the street from New York City’s Blue Note.
Although Second Movement’s CD was first recorded in February of 2005, the lack of media exposure has kept it from receiving the attention it deserves. The engineering of Jason Marcucci is tight and crisp and the band’s original compositions are unblemished. The music also lends itself to more freestyle dancing.
Do not let the fact that the CD only has eight tracks scare you off as the disc plays for 56:31.