Jazz, unlike so many other musical forms, always seems to demand or offer an “inspiration,” perhaps to justify the difficult melodies and rhythm. This collection is inspired by the little town of Polebridge, Montana; it’s somewhere up around Glacier National Park about 90 minutes from the nearest Starbucks. The music it inspires is eclectic and melancholy, opening with a song that might have made the Oklahoma soundtrack. It’s a hillbilly fiddle sawer called “Pass the Beer Bread,” and if you relax too much you’ll get a mule kick half-way through as Mosher either stops to tune up, or whups his Jazz Stick on the song, fragmenting it like a shattered whiskey bottle glinting in the sun. On the next number, “Rango’s Tango,” woodwinds poke along, then segue into a dislocated tango searching for a dance beat in the high mountain passes. Somewhere in Argentina, a dictator is rolling over in his grave.
Two Pink-Floyd-length cuts are here as well, the first called “Marigold.” It’s concept-laden and shows a virtuoso talent joined by a piano in a Jazz Age sonata, then flees to a postmodern boxing match with an oboe. There are more than a few excellent ideas here, but they cut and shift rapidly, and as soon as you “get” one of them, another wrestles away the command. The other extended track is “Around the Bend,”and here I detect a touch of comic silent film backing music. It holds onto ideas longer and shifts them a bit less, yet is still exhausting listening. This record is well-executed and the supporting musicians are (and must be) excellent to keep up with Mosher’s high-flying ideas. As a listener, you too must excel, mere mortals such as myself are frustrated by the ambitious shifts in stylistic snippets. I must now lie down in a dark room with a towel on my head. You are on your own. It snows early and heavily up here.
Rob Mosher: robmosher.com