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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Review: Blue Cranes

Blue Cranes

Homing Patterns


Out ofPortlands jazz scene comes Blue Cranes sophomoreall-instrumentalalbum.Composed of almost entirely live recordings,Homing Patterns successfully offers a downbeat eclectic set of thoughtful compositionsfor any jazz listener.

Made up of Reed Wallsmith on alto sax,Sly Pig (Joe Cunningham) on tenor sax,Rebecca Sanborn on keyboards,Keith Brush on acoustic bass and Ji Tanzer on drums,Blue Cranes puts forth a powerful and whole jazz feeling.This robust sound can be heard throughout much of the album,giving it a slightly similar feel to John Coltrane or evenOregon.

The fullness of the album can be most attributed to Blue Cranes saxophone-oriented style of instrumentation.Wallsmiths alto and Cunninghams tenor work well together,whether they are presenting a solid melody or an abstract idea.The two continually play off each other,forming the core of their style.

The first track“S.T.I.L.L. introduces the patterns and styles of the group,which are usedfor the duration of the album.Beginning with a stately sax intro,the piece transitions into a flurried spiral of notes,followed by a simple minor chord progressionbacked by a slightly progressive and straightforward rock beat.

Homing Patterns is very experimental,introducing innovative and progressive styles with flare and bravado.Syncopated rhythms and odd time signatures are common of the group.Many of the songs border on the abstract,reminiscent of Ornette Colemans fast and sporadic saxophone riffs.“Beware The Pneumatic Nailer is one such example,beginning with an incredibly abstract piano and saxophone introduction and later transitioning into melody over a minute into the song.

“WashingtonPark– Eastbound similarly delves into the sporadic and abstract,showing off Blue Cranes creative ability.Recorded in aPortland tunnel,Wallsmith and Cunninghams playing styles intertwine in an ambientyetspeech-like manner,mimicking an animated subway conversation.

Like their first releaseLift Music! Flown Music!,Blue Cranes stick to a slow-to-moderate range of speeds throughout thealbum.Although the group excels in technicality and precision,Homing Patternsstrays away from rapid drum rhythms and standing bass lines,usually characteristic of fast-paced improvisational jazz.Furthermore,the virtuosic abilities of each member are portrayed together as a whole rather than individually,as the album has few pronounced solos.

This approach,however,shines through their music as a prominent strength in“Crane anditsconcludingreprise,two amazingly stunning and haunting pieces that showcase the groups diversity and inventive drive.Both songs combine slow and thoughtful sax melodies and distant,muffled drumming to create a lush atmospheric sound,proving to be two of the most powerful tracks on the album.

Blue Cranes unique and unified style is undeniable,andHoming Patterns progressive and experimental edge exhibits an impressive display of talent and innovation.

-Justin Ho

Give These Tracks a Listen:Crane


“Crane– Reprise

For fans of:Ornette Coleman,John Coltrane,Oregon


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