Transatlantic (Fair Weather Friends)
Reviewed by Kahron Spearman, Fri., Sept. 5, 2014
Debut albums elucidate direction, a delicate titter of what, and exactly how much, to present. Epirus Quartet blows Fifties-and-everything-after jazz in the same tone as the translucent gray artwork of its seven-song, half-hour bow. Transatlantic's lean silhouette necessitates much-needed additional chub, for which there are moments of local flash by tenor saxophonist/flautist Nikolas Bouklas, organ grinder Nate Basinger, and the expert rhythm section of Brad Houser (bass) and Michael Ingber (drums). Opener "Never Right" begins the journey on spaced-out echoes, while "Soundwaves" effortlessly balances its powerful, well-synced horns with producer Adrian Quesada's guitar. Soulful "Sane" boasts a magnificent breakdown, though the rhythm section takes a backseat where it should receive top billing. Drums meter too sharply and thus lack requisite chunkiness, piercing holes in the basslines instead of fattening them. Fortunately, Ryan Allen's baritone sax closes the gap. Transatlantic plays well as a model of technical proficiency and engineering, qualities integral to high-end jazz.