Shane Endsley and the Music Band – Then The Other (2011)

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Shane Endsley might not be a familiar name to you, but the Grammy-nominated funk-rock-jazz group he cofounded Kneebody might be. Even if it isn’t, this trumpeter who’d gigged with Charlie Hunter, Ben Allison and Chris Speed became more noticeable with the debut of his own Music Band.

Then The Other was supposed to be a vehicle for Endsley’s simpler melodies in order to emphasize individual performances within an all-acoustic context, but their maiden release didsn’t come off as overtly jamming to me. Sure, with a crew like Craig Taborn (piano), Matt Brewer (bass), and Ted Poor (drums), there’s going to be plenty of good musicianship going on, but in the end, it’s Endsley’s songs that define the character of the band, and they’re all interesting and complex enough to keep the material from wearing thin anytime soon.

The opener “Big” is a good example: the song has a harmony that’s easy to follow, but the details like melodic structure, tempo modulation and group interplay are fussed over. The Appalachian folk of “Kings County Ramble” or the gospel-inflected “Slow Gesture” shows Endsley is drawing from outside of jazz for his composing sources as well. His trumpet keeps making me think of Sarah Wilson, even though he’s probably been recording longer; it’s got that same human, unpretentious character to it.

All of this added up to a solid record, and opened up yet another facet of this talented composer/bandleader/performer.

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Then The Other was the first release by Kneebody’s own Low Electrical Records.

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