On this live recording, Cincinnati-based saxophonist/composer Dave McDonnell rips through the workhorses in the songbook he’s been developing over the years with his Chicago ensemble. Defaulting to the gut impulses of his virtuosic cast — featuring Jason Adasiewicz (Sun Rooms) on vibraphone, Joshua Abrams (Natural Information Society) on bass, and Quin Kirchner (Wild Belle, NOMO) on drums —the group reinterprets McDonnell’s songs by embracing an Occam’s Razor-like approach, opting for the most direct method of channeling his music through the ensemble. This performance was all about the foursome interacting with one another and focusing on the flow of the music, rather than working through thorny arrangements, and as a result, the takes heard on Eidetic are the most robust and energetic versions of these tunes to date.
On the album’s opener “The Three Castles”, the rhythm section swings with fire as Adasiewicz’s unmistakable vibes lends McDonnell’s saxophone melody an exotic, new harmonic persona. “Geranium” blooms with a remarkable urgency, climaxing in a searing solo by McDonnell; and by the album’s centerpiece, “Painter of Tigers”, the band is burning through syncopated gestural rhythms at a surprisingly comfortable speed. The suite’s only “new” tune, “Eubaldo’s Rainbow”, shifts gears with a strutting blues walk that bolsters McDonnell’s most spot-on Jackie McLean-channeling since his last Herculaneum outing. Eidetic closes with one of McDonnell’s most notable compositions, “Æthelstan”, but here the song’s original guitar part is replaced by airy vibraphone tones that counter-balance McDonnell’s muscular performance on the saxophone.
“The changes in my life the past four years (having kids, teaching college) have made me realize that in order to continue to be creative and spend time inside my imagination, I have to work more efficiently than I ever thought I was capable of,” says McDonnell. “I’ve learned to be honest with myself about what aspects of my work/writing/playing are most important to me and make artistic decisions that I might have been afraid to make before… So basically there’s no more bullshit.”
Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone
Joshua Abrams: bass
Quin Kirchner: drumsAll songs by David McDonnell (Invisible Library Music, ASCAP)Recorded live at The Whistler by Alex Inglizian
Mixed by Erik Hall
Mastered by Greg Obis at Chicago Mastering Service
Artwork by Lisa Armstrong