Independent jazz artist Amos Gillespie is scheduled to release his new album, Unstructured Time Friday. Gillespie will release the nine-song record on his own through CD Baby. According to information provided about the presentation, its overall theme is that of finding peace “in a loud world.” The 45-minute work will certainly bring its audiences their own peace. One of the songs that serves to establish that peace comes early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Like a Blossom.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Silence Is Your Own,’ the record’s penultimate entry, is another way in which the record’s overall theme is presented, and well at that. It will be discussed a little later. Much the same can be said of ‘Fewer Words,’ another of the album’s entries. Each of the songs noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Unstructured Time. All things considered, they make the album in whole a successful new offering from Amos Gillespie and his fellow musicians that any jazz fan will find enjoyable.
Unstructured Time is a positive offering from independent saxophone player Amos Gillespie. It is a presentation that will appeal to most jazz fans. That is proven from the record’s opening to its end with songs that at times, lend themselves to comparisons to works from Yellowjackets and at other times, to works from ages long gone. The whole is a presentation that will bring peace to any listener in a loud and busy world. That is proven in part in one of the album’s early entries, ‘’Like a Blossom.’ Vocalist Alexandra Olsavksy and guitarist Casey Nielsen lead the way in this gentle, flowing composition. Their work alongside that of pianist Paul Bedal almost immediately creates a sound and stylistic approach that is comparable to works from Yellowjackets circa 1998, the year when the group released its album, Club Nocturne. The gentile nature of the composition is so relaxing in itself. It also serves well to help translate the message in the song’s theme of the delicate and fleeting nature of life.
The message is even pointed out in the song’s final line, which states, “Time is short and fleeting like a blossom.” Understanding this, the rest of the song’s lyrics make more sense. Olsavsky sings of finding peace because of that fleeing nature in the song’s lead verse, “Fighting fires with hoses from a garden/Driving on a patrol in the desert/Giving time to people/Taking a chance/Cleaning floors and staring in the distance/Closing off all the playgrounds from the children/Turning off all the lights at a fair/Seeing only shadows playing games/Why does normal feel so far away?” This opening segment comes across as an examination of everything that happened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The patrol cars in the desert could easily be authorities driving streets made empty by federal lockdowns, for instance. The shadows playing games is right in line with that. From there, Olsavsky sings about going through the motions, such as “Throwing out the garbage in an alley/Staying late and baking bread at a store/Washing clothes and linens/Making the beds/Taking a breath for a stranger.” From there, the rumination continues just as deeply before she reminds listeners that “grains of sand are falling in the hour” and that they need to listen “to a little light from within.” The bigger picture here is that with all of the difficult situations happening in life, it makes a person realize that one should appreciate the everyday things that we do, even if they might be monotonous. This is just this critic’s interpretation. Taking this seeming message into account along with the noted general approach taken in the song’s musical arrangement, the whole makes this song such a wonderful addition to the album. It is just one of the songs that presents the overall theme of finding peace in this world. ‘Silence Is Your Own’ is another excellent example of the noted theme.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Silence Is Your Own’ is another gentle, flowing work. Unlike that of ‘Like A Blossom,’ this work is much simpler. Olsavsky leads the way again. This time, her impressive vocal talents are paired with Bedal’s work on piano to lead the way. Drummer Gustavo Cortinas’ subtle cymbal rolls and time keeping adds its own touch to the whole. All things considered here, the composition conjures thoughts of a quiet countryside on a warm spring morning, the sun slowly rising. That picture works well with the song’s lyrical theme, which centers on the topic of making time for one’s own self and just relaxing.
Olsavsky most clearly delivers the song’s theme late in the song as she sings, “Find some distance/From all of what makes you who you are/Pack it all up and throw it far/Try to let go/What do you know of yourself?/Find some distance/From all of what tries to name your place/In your face/Let your mind set/Like the winter sun/Spring is near/A gorgeous springtime/Sleeping in for a day/Dreams fly in on a window shade/For now it is alright/Staying out of sight.” This is a clear translation of the noted theme. It encourages listeners to take time for themselves, to get away from everything and everyone and to just find that inner peace. This is all too important a message today, especially what with the increasing focus on one’s mental health. To that end, it further delivers the record’s overall theme quite well. What’s more, when this accessible message and delivery thereof is considered along with the song’s equally engaging and entertaining musical arrangement, the whole makes the song that much more enjoyable. It makes the song yet another example of what makes the album in whole successful.
‘Silence Is Your Own’ is just one more example of what makes Unstructured Time enjoyable. ‘Fewer Words’ is yet another notable way in which the record’s theme is presented, and its musical arrangement is just part of what helps it deliver that message so well. The musical arrangement featured in this song is intriguing in what seems like such a contrast in styles. Cortinas delivers a sort of Dixieland swing style approach through his performance on the drums. Olsavsky pairs with Gillespie and fellow saxophone player Andy Schlinder to give the song more of a straightforward swing style sound and approach. Bedal builds on that approach through his performance on the piano, while also adding a bit of a modern jazz swing. Simply put, there is a lot going on here in this composition, but it still works so well. Each performer compliments his/her fellow performers, making sure not to overpower one another along the way. The result is yet another notable musical addition to Unstructured Time.
When that light musical arrangement is paired with the song’s lyrical theme, the whole makes for even more interest. In the case of the lyrical theme of ‘Fewer Words,’ it is an indictment of sorts, of the news media. This plays into the album’s bigger overall theme by encouraging listeners to tune out, not give so much credence to all of the media’s words. Right in the song’s lead verse, Olsavsky mentions the back and forth of the two sides, all of the “he said/she said” and being “confused about where we’re all at.” These are such true statements delivered in such simple and accessible fashion. All things considered here, the message of being bothered by the loud nature of the news industry plays directly into the album’s bigger theme of finding peace in a loud world. The whimsical nature in which it is delivered along with the song’s musical arrangement makes it all the more engaging and entertaining, and in turn shows how it helps make the album in whole successful. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Unstructured Time a wonderful new work from Amos Gillespie and company that any jazz fan will enjoy.
Amos Gillespie’s new album, Unstructured Time, is a strong offering from the up-and-coming jazz saxophonist/composer. Its success comes through its musical and lyrical content alike. The songs featured in this recording makes that clear. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album a presentation that any jazz fan will appreciate.
Unstructured Time is scheduled for release Friday. More information on the album is available along with all of Gillespie’s latest news at:
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