Album review: Archetypes

Published on June 7, 2021 by Jonathan Blumhofer       |      Share this post!

Perhaps it goes without saying that the performances here are superb: Third Coast’s and the Assads’ performances want nothing for rhythmic precision, energy, color, or focus.

Third Coast Percussion and the father-daughter team of Sérgio and Clarice Assad join forces for Archetypes, a new recording from the Chicago-based Cedille label that explores — in concise, innovative fashion — specific personality types.

The album’s concept is straightforward: there are a dozen tracks, four written by each of the Assads and the remaining four composed by members of Third Coast (David Skidmore, Peter Martin, Robert Dillon, and Sean Connors). Each movement evokes, in one or more ways, a character: rebel, orphan, lover, jester, etc. The shortest installment (“Jester”) runs just under three minutes; the longest (“Sage”) clocks in at just over five.

Stylistically, the disc runs the gamut from world and folk-inflected gestures to jazz, minimalism, and whatever else in between. It’s nothing that pushes the ear too hard one way or another. That said, the six composers at work here manage to fulfill the album’s conceit creatively — and complement each other’s pieces effectively.

The Assads’ selections offer catching lyrical turns, sometimes including Clarice’s vocalizations (see Sérgio’s “Innocent”), as well as moments rich in atmosphere: a cacophonic episode begins Clarice’s “Rebel” while the hazy textures of Sérgio’s “Magician” morph into driving riffs. As for the spunky Jew’s Harp in Clarice’s “Jester” and the blazing runs in her “Hero,” well, let’s just say that there’s plenty of vigorous personality to be found in these tracks, too.

The same goes for the contributions of the Third Coast musicians. Skidmore’s “Lover” brings together (beautifully) mallet percussion and guitar. Martin’s “Ruler” opens with noble guitar and piano progressions that are gradually layered with increasingly urgent percussive tattoos. Dillon’s pungent “Sage” and Connors’ enigmatic “Creator” prove equally well-shaped and affecting.

Perhaps it goes without saying that the performances here are superb: Third Coast’s and the Assads’ performances want nothing for rhythmic precision, energy, color, or focus. To be sure, theirs is an invigorating partnership and, as engaging as Archetypes is, one can only imagine how bracing these six players are together in concert. Hopefully, the day this sextet can be experienced live is just around the corner. Until then, Archetypes does more than enough to keep hope alive. Recommended.

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