Some Places Are Forever Afternoon proves that the institution of the album-an actual package built around the music-is still alive and well. It contains 11 Wayne Horvitz compositions directly inspired by the work of American Northwest poet Richard Hugo. (The 12th is a direct homage by the composer.) Each is named for a line from a specific Hugo poem, and those works are printed in full in a 28-page booklet including photographs that capture small-town America in all its glory, past and present.
The packaging, in turn, provides a greater appreciation for the music contained inside. Horvitz has taken on yet another ambitious project and created something spellbinding. While a handful of composers have, in recent times, injected jazz music with elements of Americana, folk and rock, Horvitz has created a song cycle that encapsulates the beauty of the vast plains depicted in Hugo’s words and the inherent loneliness that often comes with those landscapes. Along with the composer’s keyboards and electronics, the sound comes from a blend of cornet (Ron Miles), bassoon (Sara Schoenbeck), cello (Peggy Lee), guitar (Tim Young), bass (Keith Lowe) and drums (Eric Eagle). Sometimes the music feels downright funereal, only to ease into barrelhouse piano backed by beautiful descending horn lines.