Avi Granite's Verse Snow Umbrellas

In 2009, Canadian guitarist/composer Avi Granite moved to NYC to seek new challenges and recover from a deep personal loss. As Snow Umbrellas amply demonstrates, he has been inspired by the city to create some of his richest music yet. With trumpet virtuoso Raphy Alessi as a melodic foil, tunes uncoil unpredictably with their "walking along then duck into an alley" turns. "Mortetia" finds Alessi playing with a deceptively golden, mellow sound that choses unorthodox leaps, while Granite's harmonics sound like the warning at a train crossing. There's a blues resonance to much of the music, which becomes overt on "Like John," with a meaty, Mingus-y bass solo by Jerry DeVore. Granite has a gorgeous, clear, intimate sound, and the high quality of the recording captures hair's breadth nuances of microtonal bends, sliding legato lines and sharply articulated punch notes. Another Canadian, drummer Owen Howard, contributes to the loose tightness of the group. Never overstating or overplaying, Howard keeps the dynamics expressive, the grooves chewy good, and the fills always compositionally appropriate and satisfying. One possible drawback: the tempos rarely vary, being mostly mid-ish, with "Barnacles" being the notable exception. Regardless, Snow Umbrellas is rewardingly listenable and it's hard to argue with that. (Pet Mantis)