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Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns by Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti

Portugal-based Clean Feed Records asked New York based accordionist Will Holshouser and his trio to record with revered Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti for the former’s third release for this label. And as the marketing material implies, the program offers a cinematic type aura for the mind’s ever discerning eye. Essentially, Holshouser and his superb band pronounce a seamless integration of Americana, jazz and European folk, among other facets that uncannily fuse edgy improvisation with endearing soundscapes.

It’s a harmonically attractive engagement from start to finish. Trumpet great Ron Horton morphs a little trad jazz into certain parts as the band spawns a prismatic genre-hopping jaunt that integrates jazz music’s legacy with ultra-modernism and rhythmically charged storylines. On "Dance Of The Dead," Holshouser executes an airy, yet pumping ostinato via a cheery theme building approach, offset by free-form type intervals and notions of a sun-drenched, Mediterranean beachfront. Regardless of tempo or intent, the unit abides by a festive approach, complete with the artists’ synergistic improvisation exercises and odd-metered exploits.

The band swings, and elicits lucid imagery while using space as a vantage point. And they render a sober muse, sparked by David Phillips’ edgy arco-bass lines during "The Oldest Boat," which is a piece that offers contrapuntal statements in alliance with a sweet-toned melody line. Moreover, Sassetti’s semi-classical phrasings offer a striking contrast to Holshouser and Horton’s pungent unison choruses. But they shift the tide on "Irreverence," as the musicians delve into call and response episodes, underscored by a sense of urgency. Simply stated, Holshouser strikes a translucent balance, incorporating progressive jazz and numerous modal concepts, whereas the entertainment factor rides high throughout this gem of a release.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti
  • CD Title: Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Clean Feed
  • Rating: Four Stars
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