The Book of the Storm
Although Rob Reddy performs regularly as a saxophonist, his 19-piece Small Town ensemble finds him working solely as conductor and composer. His inspiration for the four-part The Book of the Storm came from natural disasters and social oppression throughout history and, as a result, it features a good deal of dense, dissonant voices that collide and sometimes complement one another. Guitarists Brandon Ross and Jon Margulies begin “Spacious Skies/Faithless Bells” with sustained drones and lonely surf melodies. But when the ensemble kicks in, things lose steam because the acoustic instruments aren’t recorded with enough volume to compete with the electric introduction. Individual soloists, none of whom are singled out, bob and weave over ostinatos that don’t take advantage of the large group’s harmonic potential. The mood never sounds sinister or infectious enough to sustain this 23-minute section. Things pick up a bit in “God Damn” with its mutant blues elements and more interesting horn shouts. The bass clarinet riff that frames “Fool’s March” gets a little too close to Philip Glass for these ears, but it inspires some of the most inspired blowing from the ensemble. Finally, “Amongst the Ruins” expertly creates a foreboding, after-the-storm feel with some brooding French horn lines and a drum pattern that that marches the piece off into a dramatic conclusion. Although The Book of the Storm includes moments when things catch fire, it comes up a little short as a whole piece.