“This is music of brisk intelligence and an almost off-putting abundance of composure… with frictionless access to great chunks of classical postminimalism, atmospheric indie-rock and harmonically astute post-bop.”
With his 2012 release By A Little Light, Chicago bassist and composer Matt Ulery presented profoundly rich compositions for a large ensemble. The sprawling two-disc collection, lush with strings, winds, and vocals—care of the iconoclastic contemporary classical ensemble eighth blackbird, and Polish singer Grazyna Auguscik—was called “one of the most hauntingly beautiful recordings of ” by Chicago Tribune, received ★★★★ ½ in Downbeat, and appeared on NPR’s Top 50 Albums of the Year across all genres. For his follow-up—his second for the Greenleaf Music label—Ulery sets aside the grandeur of the large ensemble without sacrificing the beauty inherent in his compositions, reimagining his long-standing Loom Quintet on Wake An Echo.
Loom is an acoustic jazz quintet influenced by current indie rock and the folk music of the Americas and Europe. The personnel includes five unique composers, bandleaders, and improvisers with Ulery at the compositional center.
The rhythm section, anchoring the ensemble since 2006, consists of the trio of pianist Rob Clearfield who doubles on accordion on Wake An Echo, drummer Jon Deitemyer, and Ulery on double bass. This grouping also provided the backbone to the By A Little Light ensemble. These are musical confidantes who have collaborated on countless endeavors helping to foster what is a deep musical relationship with the type of confidence essential to the sensitive elasticity of Ulery’s music.
The frontline of the Loom quintet is a unique blend of trumpet and bass clarinet. While Geof Bradfield is an accomplished tenor saxophonist, Ulery asked him to play bass clarinet exclusively after hearing him with trumpeter Marquis Hill in a different setting. With Hill’s dark tone, Bradfield’s tenor-like agility on bass clarinet this is a fresh, new sound for Loom.
“These specific instruments and personalities have opened up a new world of orchestration possibilities for me, and are essential to the interest and drama in this music,” Ulery notes, ”ultimately helping lead to an emotional connection between the players and the listeners.”
With Loom, Matt Ulery expands his voice, continuing to draw on his varied experiences and influences while using well-seasoned personnel to not just perform but inhabit the music he creates.