St. Dirt Elementary School Fall (In Love) By April

St. Dirt Elementary School always sound like they’re having a great time playing Myk Freedman’s ’30s bounce meets ’50s noir meets 21st century junkyard jazz. Fall (In Love) By April is better recorded than the first and features subtle changes to the line-up. First is the addition of Wes Cheang on the guitarele — a cross between a uke and a guitar. The delicate tones of the instrument, and Cheang’s straight-up style helps Freedman to loosen up on his slide guitar attack for more adventurous solos and sound effects. Another change is the addition of altoist Rob Mosher to several tunes; sounding like Stan Getz, he further intensifies the lyrical qualities of the music. Freedman’s ballads are some of the most gorgeous music in jazz right now: "The Heart Attack Commercial” and "A Classic Letter Saying I’m Gone” feature beautifully layered textures and shifting chords that take several listens to fully appreciate. The clarinet/analog synth/alto sax combo continues to pay dividends, infusing the midrange with warm tones; Ryan Driver as always is a marvel in adjusting timbre as much as playing notes. Tania Gill is always a highlight on piano, with her angularity adding grit to the ballads’ languid feel, and tempering the goofiness of the up-tempo numbers. If anything, this disc finds them less in junior Sun Ra mode, and more cheerfully song-oriented, but the balance of colourful ensemble playing and lovely solo work all around make this disc a more mature effort. (Rat-Drifting)