Compositions of Matt McBane

New Amsterdam Records

Andrea Lee, cello; Ben Campbell, bass; Matt McBane, violin; Mike Cassedy, piano/Rhodes; Adam Gold, drums
In the Backyard, Magnet, No Response, Imagining Winter, Drivin’

Somewhere between minimalism and jazz lies the music of Matt McBane. The tracks on this disc are familiar yet fresh, comfortable yet compelling. The music is not easily classified as being one thing or another and that might be the main reason I keep listening to it. The first four shorter works are have a breezy and effortless quality to them. They would be at home at a jazz club, in a coffee shop (big one), or a chamber concert stage. McBane has a fantastic intuitive sense that is backed up by a serious amount of compositional craft.

Drivin’ is the big piece on the disc. At just under 14 minutes, it is almost as long as the previous four tracks combined. At first the music sounds like Steve Reich with a drumset. A hypnotic pulse groove in the piano drives away while flat drones in the strings emerge and start to groove in a very Reich-ian sort of way. As the piece evolves, though, McBane makes it clear that while he has clearly heard a lot of Reich, he is no wannabe. The piano transforms into a melodic entity that sounds more like a jazz solo than minimalistic process. Angular melodies sprout up everywhere. Spiky rhythms permeate the whole piece, binding it together, as every performer gets their own feature. If you listen, you hear that the rhythmic profile of the piece is treacherous. The performers make it sound easy, effortless, and improvisational.

McBane’s music is somewhere between a lot of different influences. I hope he stays there for a long time because it is definitely worth hearing.

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