Music Reviews
Madre Vaca

Madre Vaca

Knights of the Round Table

Madre Vaca Records

Madre Vaca is a collaborative group of musicians from Jacksonville, Florida. They are busy making a space for themselves to create beautiful and adventurous music on their own terms. Their latest release is a suite of songs based on the Arthurian legends. Drummer and composer Benjamin Shorstein based the 10 pieces of the suite on characters and events from the Knights of the Round Table legends.

Shorstein has a background composing for classical and jazz music and soundtracks. The overall structure of this piece is very much in the classical mode. In my imagination, I see this being played out in a concert hall with Madre Vaca being something of a jazz orchestra. Within each of the songs, there is room for jazz soloing from the members of the collective.

Pianist Jonah Pierre is a standout soloist, as is guitarist Jarrett Carter. The suite opens with a swinging waltz-time piece, “The Lady of the Lake.” The piece features some nice interplay between Pierre and bassist Thomas Milovac and a lilting melody carried by the horns. “Galahad” is something of a mini-suite in and of itself. The song opens as a militaristic march, before fading into a romantic theme. The themes play tag throughout the piece. It may not be fair, but the vocals on “Knights of the Round Table” have me imagining the Monty Python knights bobbing up and down singing, “equal, equal, we’re all equal.” There are some serious solos between the headbobbing.

I like the ambition of Knights of the Round Table. It’s a fun musical romp. I can’t say I’ve heard jazz, medieval lore, and classical style blended together like this before. Think of it as a Ren Faire for your ears.

Madre Vaca


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