University of the Arts School of Music Grad Ensemble: Lyric Motion (UArts)

A review of the album featuring three distinctive groupings

University of the Arts School of Music Graduate School Ensemble, Lyric Motion
The cover of Lyric Motion by the University of the Arts School of Music Graduate Ensemble

There is much to savor in this third recording in recent years showcasing original compositions and performance by musicians in the graduate jazz studies program at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. In this case, the music comes from three distinct groupings: trio, quartet, and a quintet that is supplemented by vocals on one of its three tunes.

There’s an ECM feel in the trio explorations of guitarist Dave Allen’s varied originals: the rollicking “Slipping Glimpser,” the beautifully shaped title track “Lyric Motion,” and the twists and turns of the more mysterious “Untold Story.” Allen is joined in this intimate setting by Shane Aaserud on bass and faculty member Matt Scarano on drums.

The quintet also tackles three varied compositions. Pianist Ian Sadock’s feverish “Night Terror” features tenor saxophonist Iming Lin and distinctive bass work from Alex Delcourt that sets up an introspective, shimmering piano solo. Delcourt’s ballad “Sudden Breeze” is a fine contrast that features a relaxed rhythm as Delcourt and Lin solo over gentle yet supportive ensemble work. Singer Raimundo Santos contributes the stunning “Lonely Heart,” which brings out the grooving side of this group. Program director Don Glanden adds a keyboard solo with some melodic doubling by guitarist Austin Kruczek on “Lonely Heart.”

This fine session includes two originals from Aaserud’s graduate recital, where he performed with saxophonist Anthony Nigro, guitarist Jun-Ki Lee, and drummer Kevin Blanke. “Malice” spotlight’s the leader’s melodic bass work and Nigro’s saxophone solo, which intensifies as it moves along. That sets up a tasty interlude from Lee. The closer, “Far Cry from an Echo,” features extended solo space for each of the quartet members. Aaserud’s solos and rhythmic thread set the mood for the sax, guitar, and drum spotlights that follow. It’s a beauty.

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