Twin Talk, Westerlies | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Westerlies

Westerlies

Sasha Arutyunova

Twin Talk, Westerlies 

When: Thu., March 5, 9:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $10
Last year’s stunning Wish the Children Would Come on Home (Songlines) by New York brass quartet the Westerlies did wonders for my appreciation of Wayne Horvitz as a composer. A keyboardist who made his name on New York’s eclectic downtown scene in the 80s, Horvitz, who’d taught all four musicians, asked his former students to record his compositions. Together, trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem De Koch display a remarkable precision and tonal purity—they seem like they could rival any classical brass ensemble in terms of technique—but they’ve got the soul and improvisational heart of jazz musicians. That said, there’s not a whole lot of improvisation on the record (brief, astringent asides last no more than a few bars), though the group’s arrangements are in perpetual motion, and each horn articulates bell-clear counterpoint with ever-changing refractions and voicings. Horvitz imbues many of these tunes with a spirit of Americana—slowly unfolding melodies suggest the wide open spaces of the heartland—and in the hands of the Westerlies that spirit recalls the work of Aaron Copland and, at times, Charles Ives merged with a sharp minimalist ethic. The group’s timbre is gorgeous, imparting a mixture of nostalgia and mournfulness that’s unlike anything I’ve heard in recent years. —Peter Margasak

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