Denin Slage-Koch, It Comes in Waves Review
Navigating the Depths of Denin Slage-Koch’s It Comes in Waves
by Ferell Aubre
Denin Slage-Koch’s latest album, It Comes in Waves , is a vivid mosaic of modern jazz guitar, showcasing his exceptional talent both as a performer and composer. This album features a varying front line of Ryan Keberle on trombone, Jared Cathey on clarinet, and Shane Endsley on trumpet. The rhythm section is Gavin Allen-Dunn, Seth Lewis on bass, and Bobby Wiens on drums and percussion. The album presents eight Slage-Koch originals and a fresh arrangement. This collection of songs flows like a narrative that captures the essence of human experience through jazz.
The album’s opening track, “It Comes in Waves,” presents Slage-Koch’s ability to blend intricate harmonic progressions with melodic storytelling. The song is a journey through varying rhythms, seamlessly transitioning from straight to swing, highlighting Slage-Koch’s versatile guitar playing, which is fluid yet angular in its approach. Keberle’s trombone solo in this piece is particularly noteworthy, unfolding with a sense of narrative that adds depth to the composition.
“One for Honey” is another highlight, where Slage-Koch’s warm, box guitar tones take the forefront. The track is propelled by a modern swing feel, delivered briskly. The rhythm section, featuring Seth Lewis on bass and Bobby Wiens on drums, operates as a finely-tuned engine, driving the song forward. The piano solo by Allen-Dunn is a melodic exploration of modern jazz, while Slage-Koch’s solo strikes a perfect balance between technical prowess and melodic expression, making the track an embodiment of joyous modern jazz.
The creative arrangement on the album is the jazz rendition of the Tears for Fears classic “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Here, Slage-Koch transforms the pop hit into a jazz masterpiece with lyrical elegance and strong directional sense. The bass pedal tones by Lewis, dynamic drumming by Wiens, and light harmonic touches by Allen-Dunn set the stage for Slage-Koch’s expressive solo, showcasing his ability to recontextualize a popular song within the jazz genre.
Throughout the album, Slage-Koch demonstrates his skill as a guitarist and his strength in composition and arrangement. Each track serves as a chapter in a larger story, with contributions from the ensemble adding layers of complexity and emotion. The rhythm section, often the unsung hero in jazz recordings, receives its due recognition here, with Slage-Koch praising their ability to make the music “magical and memorable.”
It Comes in Waves is a solid modern jazz album by Slage-Koch, which stands out for its technical excellence and for its emotional depth, and storytelling. His compositions, along with the contributions from his fellow musicians, create a soundscape that is both evocative and deeply personal. The album captures the highs and lows of the human experience, with each track contributing to a larger, cohesive story.
The diversity in musical styles and influences is evident throughout the album. For instance, “Signal Fires” showcases a different aspect of Slage-Koch’s musicality with its bluesy rock feel. The track features an extended, fusion-inspired solo by Slage-Koch, elevated by Allen-Dunn’s robust organ work and the solid rhythm foundation laid by Lewis and Wiens. This track diverges from the jazz-centric theme of the album, demonstrating Slage-Koch’s versatility and willingness to explore different genres.
The closing track, “Quiet Year,” is an introspective piece. Here, Slage-Koch and Lewis each deliver beautiful solos over a subtle background, bringing the album to a reflective and poignant end. This track serves as a reminder of the album’s thematic focus on the human experience, encapsulating the introspection and contemplation that often accompany the end of a significant period.
In summary, It Comes in Waves is an album that shows Denin Slage-Koch’s maturing artistry through various musical landscapes, each track contributing to an overarching narrative that is personal and universal. Slage-Koch’s compositions are nuanced and rich, his playing pristine yet filled with emotion, and his thoughtful and impactful arrangement.