Storyboard is a Modern Jazz trio from Los Angeles, CA consisting of David Boswell on electric/acoustic/synth guitars, Rod MacDowell on electric bass and Alex Locascio on drums. The trio focuses on playing instrumental music that combines the sounds, rhythms and energy of rock, jazz and fusion. Storyboard’s sound is heavily influenced by the Pat Metheny Group, with Boswell making extensive use of guitar synthesizers, an acoustic guitar with the highs rolled back and a harmonic language+*/ that comes straight from the Metheny palette. However, Storyboard might have an obvious influence, but that does not mean that they do not bring their own stories to the board with their CD, Hello (My Quiet Moon Records 2014).

All three musicians share the composing credits on the eleven tracks and the result is a coherent project that is consistent in presenting their music in a language that is clear across varying feels. “Hello” starts the CD with Boswell playing a quick “montuno” like figure on his acoustic guitar with MacDowell playing an upper register melody over Locascio’s cymbal work which eventually leads to a resolve and MacDowell and Locascio establishing the syncopated straight eight feel. Boswell continues the intro figure that on the second repeat a high off-beat chordal hit is added to increase the drama and keep things moving forward. This theme is continued by Boswell through a harmonic sequence and improvised chordal fills at the end of each phrase. MacDowell does a fine job increasing the activity of his bass line and filling in the spaces. The theme continues to build to a strong three hit rhythmic figure that is repeated twice and functions as the cadential figure for the first melodic phrase. The trio returns to the opening theme with variations and Boswell overdubbing several rhythm guitar parts and a distorted guitar playing long sustained tones. Again, the trio builds the phrase in activity and energy to the second climax, this time using a rhythmic diminution for the cadential figure, which takes us to the solo section. Boswell begins his solo with an acoustic tone, carefully building his single note lines with added chordal hits for added energy. The opening guitar figure returns under Boswell’s solo as he continues to build in activity and register. The group continues to follow the overall shape of the original melody and on the second time through the form Boswell seems to allow his solo to fade into another variation on the original theme which builds to the final climax and the return of the original guitar figure for a fading ending.

“Chips and Samba” starts with Locascio’s snare and bass drum work setting up a groovin’ samba feel for the first eight bars and then the groove is expanded to the kit in bar nine with the addition of MacDowell’s bass figure. Boswell states the happy melody which is built on a series of four descending phrases with the fourth phrase containing a choral figure for ending the phrase. The melody is repeated and leads to the B section which is built on a repeating rhythmic figure based in 6/8 (with the dotted quarter equaling the new quarter note pulse). The B section melody is smartly built on a series of ascending phrases that is a nice change in direction from the A sections. The trio returns to the intro groove and Boswell proceeds to take us through the solo section with his warm guitar and well-built lines. Locascio and MacDowell keep the feel rock solid while still making plenty of commentary with Boswell. Boswell also adds some very nice background guitar and synth guitar parts. MacDowell keeps his solo constrained to the two A sections and then the B section melody is stated with new orchestration and then the form is repeated with more orchestration and counter melodies. The B section is used for a repeated cadential figure with Boswell playing light fills with a Metheny-esque distored guitar combined with a synth trumpet tone leading to a strong ending figure.

Overall, there is a nice balance about the project, the compositions flow well together and the trio does a fine job of creating a musical shape to each composition. If you enjoy the sounds of the Pat Metheny Group, especially the era of First Circle and Letter From Home, you will certainly want to say Hello to Storyboard.

Tracks: Hello; Sunday Drive; Firewalk; Mr. Fancy Pants; Science Friction; Heavy Water; Chips and Samba; Triumph; Winner's Circle; Beer and Donuts; Metro Jet.

Players: David Boswell: electric and acoustic synth guitars; Rod MacDowell: electric bass; Alex Locascio: drums.
Label: My Quiet Moon Records 2014

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H. Allen Williams