MARIEL AUSTIN — Runner in the Rain (review)

MARIEL AUSTIN — Runner in the Rain album cover Album · 2018 · Progressive Big Band Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
You normally wouldn’t expect a debut album to be this ambitious and eclectic, but trombonist and big band arranger Mariel Austin is apparently fearless as she does not hold back on her first outing titled “Runner in the Rain”. This is a big band outing, and a very varied and imaginative one at that. Austin touches on a myriad of styles as her narrative arrangements unfold with multiple twists and turns. Many seasoned listeners will be able to tell right away that these are young players, possibly some not quite professional yet, but don’t let that hold you back from giving this a serious listen, these young cats came to play. Much of this music was written in conjunction with Mariel’s education, and the performers are all friend of hers from Berklee and the New England Conservatory. The youthfulness of the production shows in a sort of lack of glossy sheen, but once again, this should not be a problem, so many great jazz artists, Sun Ra and Charles Mingus for example, purposefully tried to avoid such ‘glossiness’ in their music.

As mentioned earlier, Austin likes to work with a wide variety of musical styles. The CD opens with a pounding punkish odd meterd drum beat and trumpet riff before fading into several semi classical passages and eventually back to the beat. Wayne Shorter’s “Night Dreamer” is given one of the most imaginative arrangements as tone colors shift and morph in organic colors. “Mirrorshift” features a closing section with the woodwind section singing exotica style wordless vocals, while “One Way Journey” is a slow jam funk ballad with missed loved ones in mind. Album closer and title track, “Runner in the Rain” ,is a moving art song about loss with well written lyrics and vocals by Nariel herself. Fans of modern big band, and also fans of today’s youthful eclectic approach will want to check this out. Hopefully there are more big band albums coming soon from Mariel Austin.
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