Monday, December 17, 2018

John Fedchock Quartet's Reminiscence

If I asked you to imagine the sound of a trombone, especially in the context of the leading instrument in a jazz quartet, what would it be? I'd probably think of your traditional trombone sound, something out of New Orleans perhaps, slightly jovial and definitely outgoing. There's a looseness about the timbre of a trombone, possibly due to the sonic effects of the slide. That's the stereotypical sound of a trombone. I've heard a number of trombonists in the world of both jazz and classical, and there's more than one way to play the instrument. With John Fedchock, however, I feel as if I've heard a new sort of trombone, a more reticent and thoughtful instrument, one that can project an amazing range of emotion.

Fedchock's new live CD, Reminiscence, is a bit of a revelation. His horn has a distinctly different tone than most, a cautious, vulnerable and introspective sound that pulls you in toward the bell. Captured in 2015 at a Virginia Beach nightclub called Havana Nights, one that no longer exists, Reminiscence was culled from the same set of recordings that made up his last album, Fluidity. (I've also recently heard him as part of Ayn Inserto's Down the Rabbit Hole.) Havana Nights was known for its great acoustics, and I can see why Fedchock went back to the well. He probably knew he'd never play there again, and he'd never be able to get that exact same sound again.

It is a special sound, and a great recording. The rest of his quartet--pianist John Toomey, bassist Jimmy masters and drummer Dave Ratajczak--are in rare form, as they say. While the stellar space allows you to reach deeply and hear what's so unique about Fedchock's style, you might be equally drawn to the other three. The rhythm section is just as steady and cautious as Fedchock, but they are incredibly tight and focused. That allows Toomey to add a bit of splash to the performances; perhaps his easy and lyrical manner would come in conflict with another horn player, one more dedicated to sounding like most other horn players.

To put it succinctly, this is a horn-led quartet that's much softer and more fluid than you would expect. Reminiscence is faithful to its theme, about being lost in thought while mentally flipping through a stack of your finest memories. It's about a special place that no longer exists, and Fedchock's trombone is the perfect means for bringing those memories to life.

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