This past May, Evan Drybread (yes, that really is his name) released his new album, Tiger Tail independently. The jazz saxophonist’s eight-song record is a mostly successful offering that listeners will find worth hearing in part because of its featured arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. While the musical content that makes up the record’s body is important to its presentation, the lack of any background on the songs in the packaging detracts from the album to a point. This will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Tiger Tail becomes another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.
Tiger Tail, the new album from Evan Drybread, is an engaging and enjoyable new offering from the young jazz saxophonist. The 41-minute record’s appeal comes in large part through its featured musical arrangements. From one to the next, the arrangements offer a respectable amount of diversity. The record opens with a smooth swinging bop type composition. That is exemplified through the chord changes and the occasional chromatic approaches to the runs that Drybread presents. Trumpeter Mark Buselli’s solo here also adds to that sense of bop, what with the complexity of his run.
‘High Priestess,’ which immediately follows, is completely unlike its predecessor, showing that diversity a little more. The use of what sounds like a soprano saxophone against the drums, an electric bass, and keyboards gives the song a distinct modern fusion approach a la Herbie Hancock. That funky, driving arrangement, what with its complex polyrhythmic patterns played by drummer Kenny Phelps and the saxophone work by Drybread alongside the noted work on the bass and keyboard makes the song so immersive and unique. It is another wonderful, unique addition to the album that displays the diversity in the album’s musical content.
Later in the album’s run, Drybread changes things up quite notably again in ‘Atlantic Mirror.’ The song is a simple composition that features Drybread on the soprano saxophone alongside Christopher Pitts on piano. At times, Drybread’s performance lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Kenny G. However, the addition of Pitts’ performance gives the opus its own identity; an identity that is so immersive throughout and that will keep listeners fully engaged from beginning to end. It is yet another example of what makes the album’s musical content so important to its presentation. When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the likes of the Afro-Cuban-tinged ‘The Downey Wives,’ the uber funky Woodruff Place Town Hall,’ the classically tinged closer that is ‘Waltse’ and the record’s two remaining songs, the diversity in the arrangements becomes fully clear. That clarity makes clear why the record’s overall musical content is so important to its presentation. It forms a strong foundation for the album’s presentation.
While the musical content that makes up Tiger Tail’s body is unquestionably important to the record’s presentation, the lack of any background on the songs anywhere in the packaging weakens that foundation to a point. The background on the songs was provided to the media through a press release about the album’s release, but that only goes so far. If in fact the consumer copies of the album do not contain any background information then yes, that definitely detracts from the enjoyment. That is because (as this critic has noted so many times), instrumental music needs some point of reference, that starting point. Not having it only allows for a surface level appreciation for said music. To that end, the apparent lack of any background on the songs anywhere in the packaging is not enough to make the album a failure, but at the same time, it certainly did not help the record’s presentation, either.
Knowing that the lack of any background on the songs is not enough to doom Drybread’s new album, there is still one more positive to note. That positive is the record’s production. As already noted, the arrangements that make up the album’s body are diverse throughout the album. That means that a special amount of attention had to have been paid to each composition. That attention was meant to ensure each song’s best general effect paid off in each work. From the more subtle tones of ‘The Queen of Cups’ to the more upbeat vibe of ‘Tiger Tail’ to the relaxed vibes of ‘The Downey Wives’ and more, the record’s production brings out the best of each composition. The result is a positive general effect throughout the record that shows the time and effort that went into the production paid off in each work. The result is that the production proves just as pivotal to the album as the songs themselves. When the positive of the production is considered along with that of the songs’ diversity, the pairing gives audiences plenty of reason to take in this record at least occasionally.
Tiger Tail, the new album from Evan Drybread, is an interesting presentation that every jazz fan will find worth hearing. That is due in large part to its featured arrangements. The arrangements are diverse throughout, giving listeners reason in itself to hear the album. The lack of background on the songs in the packaging detracts from the overall listening experience but is not enough to make the album a failure. The record’s production works with its songs to rounds out its most important elements and makes the album’s general effect positive in its own right. Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the record’s presentation. All things considered they make Tiger Tail another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.
Tiger Tail is available now. More information on the album is available online at https://evandrybread.com.
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