Imagine four jazz musicians huddling together on a tiny stage in Chicago. They have to be economic and make sure that every note counts. That's what Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language sounds like on their debut album Natural Language - as if they are playing in a speakeasy before an appreciative audience. With textures like comfy blankets, drums played with brushes, choice bass snippets and guitar and sax as twin lead instruments, the quartet takes the listener on a guided tour through modern jazz.
All contrasts and counterpoints are placed with care, but their looseness ensures that it never gets stale or predictable. Band leader, composer and sax player Dustin Laurenzi gives ample room to his band mates to contribute - jazz is by nature driven by improvisation and since they all share the same musical language all changes can be incorporated seamlessly. Folk Song is the stand-out track, with guitar player Jeff Swanson setting the stage with dissonants and controlled feedback, challenging the other three to follow him into the dark alleys of modal and free jazz. This is a track that could be turned into a lengthy monster jam when performed live, should the mood strike them.
This quartet has enough potential to become a major force in the Windy City jazz scene and beyond. Natural Language is full-grown, confident album by four guys with a deep knowledge of their instruments. They have been playing for years in various bands, before connecting to form a cohesive unit.
As a final note: nice touch to name one of the tunes Weller as a nod to fellow Chicago sax player Chris Weller (and yes, it sounds a bit like him too).
Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language:
Mike Harmon: bass
Dustin Laurenzi: saxophone
Jeff Swanson: guitar
Charles Rumback: drums
Natural Language is released thru ears&eyes Records (digital, CD - limited to 150 copies).Tracks:
- Little Wheel
- Folk Song
- Walter's Song
- Big Talk
- 09/18 Chicago, IL @ Hungry Brain (album release party)