Smile Politely

Album Review: The Price of Air by Charles Lane

From Joe Six-pack to Joe the Plumber to Joe Rock-oriented-music-enthusiast, when the term “Jazz” is brought up images are conjured of either 15 minute, unintelligible free form jams or of smooth but insufferably boring elevator music.

The everyday man is content to “not get” Jazz or see it as something from another era. I admit, I more often look back than forward when listening to the genre, but that can only be seen as a fault.

Case in point: local musician and University of Illinois student, Charles Lane’s new album The Price of Air. Released October 9 at Zorba’s on Green Street, Lane’s 50 minute disc retells some tales, featuring three covers, but catches the listener’s attention with his original compositions. Though the seven-track album is a tad longer than the 30-40 minute pop/rock record, it doesn’t suffer by its length and allows for some rewarding moments to burst out of the mix.

Recorded at Pogo Studios, Lane’s CD still manages to capture a vibrant, live feel. The disc features Lane on tenor and soprano saxophone while accompanied by drums, double bass, piano and trumpet.

The opening track, “Suite: Prince,” begins with a single piano note hit in 4/4 time. Slowly, other notes join in to form a chord; the rhythm section comes in and by a minute and 40 seconds in the band is in full swing. The drums, played by Brent Jordan, shine through on this track. Playing time keeper while being incredibly expressive, Jordan has some serious skills.

On this track, and the album as a whole, the trumpet and saxophone have an interesting chemistry. Smooth and technically great, the saxophone is at center stage, but the bursts and bleets out of Zubin Edalji’s trumpet compliment help keep the songs dynamic.

Lane and company tackle Radiohead’s “Last Flower,” my favorite cover on the album. Lane’s saxophone really recreates that desperate tone of Thom Yorke’s vocals as it mimics its melody.

“My Confusion” is a scattered, desperate song that sounds exactly what the name implies is a nice departure from the sound of the rest of the album. The closing song, “The Weeping Rose,” highlights the band’s ability to work as a unit and serves as a fitting in to a solid album. Not to say that it occupies the middle ground on the previously mentioned spectrum, because that would imply mediocrity, but it does come off as very sincere, accessible and not in the least self-indulgent.

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