Mike Mainieri: The Dreamings

The second in renowned vibraphonist Mike Mainieri’s American Diary series, The Dreamings (NYC 6026 2; 72:19) explores the mysteries of a lush musical/cultural landscape via an unusual acoustic quartet including George Garzone (sax/clarinet), Marc Johnson (bass), and Peter Erskine (drums). The album takes listeners on an absorbing journey that highlights specific cultural places while underscoring the common threads of music, and by association, of humanity. Where the slow-developing, eerie melody of “Los Dos Lorettas” calls upon a deliberate, Navaho-culled backbeat to convey the wonders of growth, “Schecharhoret” takes a traditional Sephardic song (a haunting, romantic melody carried out by Yemenite vocalist Noa) and blends it with the modern sound of the ringing vibes for a feeling of remembrance and hope. This magical clash between ancient and modern is also carried out beautifully on the album’s title track, which brings special guest Simon Seven’s dusky didgeridoo into Mainieri’s warm, bell-toned musings, like a dream. The Dreamings brings its journey full circle by finding elemental joy in a wild subway ride on “Straphangin’,” a bouncy, swinging adventure led by Erskine’s clipping drum work. This piece, like Mainieri’s other American Diary albums, sets the pieces of a modern life in a broad, worldly context, which is as thought-provoking as it is appealingly listenable.