Blue Eternity (Jeff Oster, Michael Manring, Carl Weingarten) – Live In Philadelphia EP (2012)

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Ambient music can often be fascinating for a variety of reasons, but there’s an extra layer of intrigue when it’s performed live. That might be because there’s less contemplated beforehand than in a sterile, studio setting, thus the music just flows out in a more natural manner.

That’s part of the appeal of such a record we have with Live In Philadelphia 2011, an EP by the trio Blue Eternity. Made up of trumpet/flugelhorn player Jeff Oster, bassist Michael Manring and electric guitarist Carl Weingarten, Blue Eternity places emphasis on three way reciprocal action, unfolding in an unhurried pace, like a slow motion jam.

The other part of the appeal is the acumen of the players involved. Grammy-nominated Manring is a household name among the Windham Hill set, and he’s served as a key member in the new age bluegrass supergroup Montreux. Weingarten honed his prog rock chops in the group Delay Tactics before striking out on his own as a solo artist with an experimental flair. Oster first made a splash in the 90s with a couple of award-laden collaborations with Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman (Released and True), and has applied both a classical and jazz background toward a trumpet that’s he’s learned to skillfully manipulate with loops and software aided sonic washes.

The threesome perform four pieces running in the 6-8 minute range, with “Breitenbush” composed on the spot at a local Philadelphia church. The remaining tracks are also improvs performed the day before for Echoes Radio program Living Room as connected pieces (see video above). As good of a virtual intro “Breitenbush” makes, it gets even better when you hear them in the extended format. Oster’s effect-laden trumpet functioning as a living, breathing synthesizer, as Manring has the lyrical side of his former teacher Jaco Pastorius down pat. Weingarten knows a thing or two about engendering celestial soundscapes himself, sometimes evoking Robert Fripp in his stylings. At the same time, he can use his guitar to counterpoint Oster’s other-worldly noises with the more grounded sounds of an electric guitar. Together, they build soft layers that can take many listens to get underneath.

Any crowd noise that may have existed has been successfully removed, leaving behind a studio quality recording. Combined with the spontaneity of a live performance, and it’s a little like having the best of both worlds. Jeff Oster describes his music as “Miles meets Enya.” Blue Eternity makes me think Jon Hassell meets Jaco and (the ambient side of) Buckethead. That’s a pretty lethal combination for ambient music, that is, if ambient can ever be thought of as lethal.

Live In Philadelphia 2011 was released last January. Visit Blue Eternity’s Tumblr page for more info.

Buy the album here.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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