Then the Other
Trumpeter Shane Endsley’s Then the Other is a solid solo debut, the work of a mature, satisfied artist comfortable in many styles. The Music Band—pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Ted Poor—navigates a wide variety of Endsley compositions. All are crafty and catchy. Many are witty.
Endsley’s tunes sound as if they were written with an eye toward live performance. There are ballads, like the romantic “Conditional Love” and the casually confidential “Slow Gesture”; “Kings County Ramble” is a joyous excursion into New Orleans second-line featuring the exuberant Poor; the urgent “Two Parts” bristles with irregularity and the unexpected; and the rousing “Gallery Piece,” staked out by Brewer, showcases Endsley’s pungent, darting style and Taborn’s sharp comping. (Endsley also works in the frontline of the group Kneebody, who is introducing a new label with this release.) The longest and most abstract pieces are “House” and “Pedals,” tunes of sturdy architecture. Poor and Brewer’s metric subtlety keeps both volatile and interesting. The lovely “Pedals,” in particular, is more subtle than it at first appears, busy but grounded.
While Then the Other is indisputably jazz, a pop sensibility informs its grooves. Endsley always takes care to keep the tune moving and unpredictable; just when you think a song is settling down, he throws a curveball. Endsley has mastered the trick of keeping the listener guessing.