An Album Review of Michael Sarian’s ‘Subtitles,’ 2014
My number-one favorite jazz piece remains to be “Feels So Good” (1977) by the American flugelhorn and trumpet player and composer Chuck Mangione. Surprisingly, the second position has been occupied, that quickly, by the track called “El Poeta” from a newly released album—‘Subtitles’ (2014) by the now-U.S.-based Canadian-Argentinian trumpeter/artist Michael Sarian.
Not only for Jazz aficionados but also for anyone who is curious enough to sample a platter of various jazz styles, Sarian’s début album covers an assortment of flavors—from the subtle, short, and simple piano-led pieces “She Said” and “In Circles”; to the unassumingly slow and contemplative yet danceable and engaging “Minga”; and to the typical, noodly yet melodically memorable indulgences of “Todo Pasa.”
The longest track, “Boker Gadol, Lailah Gadol,” is melange of light café-style jazz, Mediterranean souk-buskers’ tunes, and an onslaught of bullfight horn music. “Up, Down, Back Up Again” is appropriately titled, for its mood harks back to the roots of jazz music in the sexy and carefree Swing and Big Band era of the 1930s.
However, to fans of melodic jazz that follows the tradition of Mangione’s “Feels So Good,” “El Poeta” and “La Mansa” will certainly be their instant favorites—beautiful ballads that both start off with reflective and haunting familiarity and build up into a string of melodies that ooze with instrumental emphasis, nostalgia, and childhood reminiscences.
Taken as a whole, Subtitles may be regarded as a conceptual album whose tracks have been most likely sequenced to give its listeners a smooth journey onto a textured landscape of jazz music; the opener being a perfect warmup for the early-rising enthusiast—a steady percussive beat and simple piano chords—a preparatory piece to more jazzed-up things the album has to offer. It then closes with a mid-tempo track that will take the engaged listeners to a quiet and comfortable corner in a five-star hotel lounge, sipping a glass of margarita, iced tea, or piña colada—whichever beverage feels befitting the mood of the music.
Now the ‘circle’ is complete. What ‘she said’ about the musical ‘poet’ was true indeed.
“Jazz is a genre of music that originated in African-American communities during the late-19th and early-20th century. It emerged in many parts of the United States of independent popular musical styles; linked by the common bonds of European American and African-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. The genre spans a range of music from ragtime to the present day—a period of over 100 years. It makes heavy use of improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note, as well as aspects of European harmony, American popular music, the brass band tradition, and African music’s percussive and tribal-rhythm elements.” (Wikipedia)
Classic and contemporary artists/bands whose music has important places in the world of Jazz include Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin, Sun Ra, Chick Corea, Spyro Gyra, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny Group, and Casiopea.
You may preview or purchase a copy of Michael Sarian’s Subtitles on CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/michaelsarian).