Rarely does an ensemble come along that has its own vision, one that is rooted in the music the members heard around them and grew up with, yet is still original in conception. That is truly the case with the Montalban Quintet. One of the first to incorporate indie music conceptualizations placed within jazz frameworks, this ensemble has staked out a unique path.
Formed by musicians from the University of California at San Diego, their original compositions, as well as those they cover by artists such as John Coltrane and Peter Erskine, are all run through the members own kaleidoscopic eyepieces. It’s a little bit like post-Beatles meets Staind with crosscurrents of Chicago’s horn section mixed in.
All of the tunes are mixed into each other, with the result being a non-stop stream of music that doesn’t really change from one track to the next as evolve. Occasionally extramusical devices are thrown into the barrage, like caterwauls and half-valve wails from the trumpet on “Abajo del Mar,” or non-defined beat oriented Miles Davis-ish Pangeae like grooves as on “Lonnie’s Lament.” Occasionally there are real melodies mixed in, as on “Flamenco Lake,” but this is rare.This is challenging music, to say the least, that both rewards and, upon completion of listening, leaves more questions asked than answered. This post-Phish intermixed with sullen grunge elements music might be the most original music you’ll listen to this year, if you have courage to walk down this road. It’s not really about arriving as much as it is about the trip.