Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Leaves Fall One Last Time

Posted By on 05.04.10 at 01:30 PM

PT36_Leaves_Cover.jpg
Tonight at the Whistler the long-running but low-profile local quartet called Leaves will celebrate the release of a new self-titled album by playing a free farewell show. The band's saxophonist, Charles Gorczynski (who also plays in the duo Colorlist with Leaves drummer Charles Rumback), is moving to Oakland, California, in July, and the band is calling it quits. (Colorlist will carry on despite Gorczynski's relocation.) It's a shame, because Leaves' approach diverges in a compelling way from the style pursued by most of Chicago's improv-oriented musicians—and they demonstrate it again on the new album, recorded in 2008 and released in an edition of 100 by cassette imprint Plus Tapes.

The band—which also includes guitarist Tyler Beach and bassist Dan Thatcher—sculpts a richly atmospheric sound, heavy on gauzy ambience and gentle melodic evolution. On their 2006 album Live at the Ice Factory (Fresh Produce) they sound more or less like a postbop outfit, but on the new one they enhance their music with electronics. Layers of sound swirl and hover: Beach's post-Radiohead arpeggios; the hushed, cycling unison figures he plays with Gorczynski; and Gorczynski's own billowing lines, which he often enlarges into sonic clouds with digital delay. Rumback gives the music its quietly insistent, rock-based pulse. Beach makes a few intriguing digressions—on the opening solo piece, "Orbeifu," he indulges in some post-Fahey fingerstyle action, on "Classical Theme" he flirts with Segovia-styled flamenco, and on "African Folk Song" he splits the difference—but by and large Leaves create a unified sound, meditative and beautiful, with no one player stepping to the foreground. I'm sorry to see them go.

Here's a track from Leaves called "Red Green Heart Explosion."

Today's playlist:

Tim Warfield, One for Shirley (Criss Cross)
Tune-Yards, Bird-Brains (4AD)
Octante, Lúnula (Another Timbre)
Gilberto Gil, Um Banda Um (Warner Brothers Brazil)
Luis Perdomo, Focus Point (RKM Music)

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