[JAZZ] “Cool jazz” once meant exuding a marked restraint and letting delicate, simple melodies unfold naturally. Nowadays, most young players equate “cool” with “hip” and work tirelessly to prove how “with it” they are, covering indie rock or EDM tunes and unnecessarily complicating original compositions with tricky solos and tempos.
That’s what makes Drawing Purple Orbits, the first album by local quintet the Wishermen, such a surprise and a balm to the system. These young players revert back to the original cool-jazz concept, imbuing their debut with tempered, graceful performances and writing.
The band bucks the other convention as well, with drummer Barra Brown and guitarist Grant Sayler writing almost all the songs on Drawing. Thankfully, the two are able composers, bringing an assured yet understated edge to their tunes. They work especially well at capturing a dusky mood, as on the slowly simmering album closer “Farewell (To Ari Garella),” or Sayler’s shape-shifting “Love Don’t Lie, Here I Am.”
There’s an openness to the tracks, too, that allows ample space for some nice vamping and harmonizing on the part of the group’s horn players. Trumpeter Cyrus Nabipoor shines brightest throughout, especially on “The One With Starry Eyes,” a ballad he commands with a Chet Baker-like elegance.
If the Wishermen borrow anything from indie rock, it’s the sense of a group aesthetic, with all members being necessary pieces to this melodic puzzle. Take away any one tone or instrument and Drawing just wouldn’t work.
SEE IT: The Wishermen play Ivories, 1435 NW Flanders St., on Friday, Oct. 5. 8 pm. $10. Minors allowed until 9 pm.