Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Raul d'Gama Rose
There is a beautiful and mysterious quality to multi-instrumentalist Ben Wendel's Frame. It is as if the hot breath from one of his horns has blown some ancient film away to reveal an iridescent object that begins to oscillate and spin, changing colors and hues, mesmerizing as it spins and swings with uncharacteristic swagger. All this seems both real and unreal as Wendel's singular, hypnotic voice unfurls. The saxophonist inhabits a sound as close to singing through the reed as is humanly possible. In so doing, he has perfected vocalizing in the manner of Nat "King" Cole combined with Ben Webster. Such is the velvet and whispering nature of Wendel's tone and texture. Of course, the colors that emerge from the bell of his horn are another matter. These come from a soulful palette that includes such a myriad of hues that they are difficult to count. His musical canvas is so filled with a riot of colors that a musical carnival ensues.
Wendel is also a composer of considerable invention and ingenuity. This album is not called Frame for nothing. For here, the idiom of jazz forms the outer perimeter of the music. The material in the frame is an ever changing painting - a moveable feast for the ear, heart and soul. Wendel paints with fey colors; his music has the effect of fluttering gently like a diaphanous water color work that is wet and dripping as it morphs from one legato passage to another. Thus the work here appears to form a suite of songs - all with beginnings and middles and ends that are tantalizing and drive into the center of the heart. The music of "Chorale," for instance, is like a shimmering dart aimed at that sweet spot in the soul where every ache is unforgettable. Nothing describes that feeling better than Wendel's extraordinarily touching re-imagining of Dizzy Gillespie's classic missive, "Con Alma." ... read more...
Personnel: Ben Wendel (melodica, bassoon, saxophone); Nir Felder (guitar); Nate Wood (drums).
Audio Mixer: Nate Wood .
Recording information: Brooklyn, NY (01/19/2011/01/20/2011).
Photographers: Leah Chun; Dan Kitchens.