You know these rain-slicked streets, these shadow-shrouded alleyways, all-night diners streaked by flickering neon and basement bars hazy with cumulous clouds of exhaled smoke. Close your eyes and you can hear the plaintive saxophone, the insinuating bass line, the brushes caressing the snare drum as a jazz combo supplies the score for a harrowing journey into the dark urban underbelly. For Indiana guitarist Brent Laidler, the voluptuous imagery and convoluted plotlines of film noir served as a seductive muse, inspiring the sensuously cinematic concept album No Matter Where Noir. Scheduled for Spring/Summer 2017 release, the album delivers a lyrically charged sojourn into a realm populated by femmes fatales, tough guy private eyes and shady characters looking for an edge.
Featuring a septet made up of some of the finest players in the Indianapolis area, Laidler’s band interprets his finely wrought tunes with poise and swinging authority. Possessing an enviably warm and pliable tone, the guitarist says the album’s storyline flowed out of a rueful noir ballad that became the project’s title track.
Laidler isn’t writing programmatic material. Each song stands confidently on its own. But there’s an irrepressible narrative flow, from the joint-is-jumping swing of “Jamie’s Joynt” and the Blue Note swagger of “Sixth Sense” (a fedora hat tip to the great Lee Morgan) to the suave, killer groove of “Heavy Memphis Jones” (with the sly quote from “Have You Met Miss Jones”) and the existential kiss off “Keep Me In Mind.”
Part of what gives the ensemble its distinctive sound is Mitch Shiner’s vibes, which adds a bright timbre on unison lines with the horns. Ned Boyd’s cool-toned alto, lithe, sinewy and rhythmically supple, blends beautifully with Mark Buselli’s burnished trumpet and flugelhorn. Propelled by the crisp rhythm section featuring ace bassist Scott Pazera, top-shelf pianist Jamie Newman, and either Richard “Sleepy” Floyd or Kenny Phelps on drums, Laidler’s band brings just the right emotional pitch to the noir material, deadly serious and seriously playful!
Always game for new musical adventures, Laidler takes a thrilling trip down a dark alley with No Matter Where Noir, an album that makes an incontrovertible case for the enduring allure of the dark side.