Jeremy Udden,
(Fresh Sound, 2009)

Plainville is a project of the busy saxophonist Jeremy Udden, who has played with a number of well-known performers in jazz, avant-garde, rock, pop and world music.

The album is named for Udden's Massachusetts hometown. It puts Udden's alto and soprano sax in a generally more pastoral setting, largely backed by instruments more associated with folk and country music.

For example, the title track begins with a pump organ, which leads into banjo, pedal steel and acoustic guitars, and Udden's melodic alto. "Red Coat Lane" and "Christmas Song" are in the same vein. As the CD progresses, the tunes get a bit heavier with the addition of electric guitar and a little more abstract. "695" adds a Latin beat. The CD ends like it began, with the slightly ambient "Empty Lots."

An exception is "Big Lick," where Udden plays hard, the drums are upfront and none of the "rural" instruments are heard.

This city meets country idea does not always work. Udden sounds out of place in a few spots, and he might be accused of noodling at points. This is a generally solid release, however. The unique sound draws your attention, and there are many beautiful melodies that carry these nine tracks along in a mellow but always interesting manner.

review by
Dave Howell

26 September 2009

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