John L Walters
Friday May 26, 2006
There’s no trace of “second-album syndrome” in Oriole’s follow up to Song for the Sleeping. Bandleader and prolific guitarist-composer Jonny Phillips seems to have tunes coming out of his ears, yet he has the discipline to make them into satisfying pieces. He also has a fantastic team to interpret his compositions, mostly drawn from the F-ire Collective.
At the heart of the band is the subtle interplay between Phillips’s lightly phrased guitar, Ingrid Laubrock’s tenor saxophone, Ben Davis’s cello and Adriano Adewale Itauna’s percussion. Backed up by sympatico bass and drums, the Oriole sound is a kind of South American or Spanish-tinged world-jazz that is easy on the ear but rarely bland (though it would have benefited from a more robust production).
And just when you think you know what to expect, Phillips adds another timbre, such as Julia Biel’s voice, or the reeds of Idris Rahman (from the Soothsayers) to keep things interesting, or delivers a catchy crowd-pleaser such as the double-sax-led Sunshine Continuous. Laubrock, who was outstanding on the recent short tour with Guinga and Monica Vasconcelos, just gets better and better.