A case of Folk Art, let’s dance, or Folk Art let’s just stand around. Well, whatever takes your fancy, but for Jeremy Udden if dancing is on the agenda, it’s terpsichore in a bijou barn if such a thing exists going by the Americana flavours here, hinted at by a bit of banjo near the start.
The work of a core quartet led by alto sax leader Udden with a number of guests there are ten tracks on the album (released by Fresh Sound New Talent ***1/2), led off at an undauntingly funereal pace, with Udden eventually emerging in a poised slow section that draws out the rhythm section somewhere lurking in the hay loft. Udden has been around a while and should really be better known, but like a lot of US players who don’t play gigs much if at all in the UK, it takes time, sometimes years, for the word to really get out.
The good news is that Udden is taking part in a French-American jazz exchange in the offing working with Paris-based bassist Nicolas Moreaux soon, so word might filter over across the Channel next year.
Best known for his band Plainville, and there are a few of that band’s tunes here, the main focus is the suitably ambitious if occasionally too episodic ‘Folk Art Suite’. Udden likes sinuous laidback lines redefining Ornette Coleman in an appealingly unstudied organic way at times, with plenty of savoury chromaticism all of his own, and tunes that have definite structures, but don’t feel like they’re hiding behind a crippling concept. Brandon Seabrook’s banjo is an obvious feature of the album and on ‘Portland’ comes to the fore in keeping with the overriding ideas behind the album that eschew fake pastoralism but conjure up an image of the great wide open spaces that city dwellers often know little about. Well worth making the acquaintance of.