Sam Boshnack – Trumpet, flugelhorn
Beth Fleenor – Clarinet, bass clarinet, voice
Dawn Clement – Piano, Wurlitzer, additional keyboards
Isaac Castillo – Acoustic bass
Max Wood – Drums, percussion
“Sam”, as it turns out, is Samantha Boshnack, a Seattle-based trumpeter and composer who also leads a larger aggregation called the B’shnorkestra. This is her first release with this group, all of whom were unknown to me, although Sam has evidently been on the Pacific Northwest scene for quite some time.
When I first listened to Exploding Syndrome, it seemed like a solid post-bop session, well played, but perhaps of a piece with a lot that’s being released these days. There was something that kept drawing me back, though, to listen again, and I’m glad I stuck with it, because first impressions proved to be deceiving.
First of all, the quality of the writing puts this one a notch above the rest. Boshnack’s compositions are able to effectively convey a mood, be it reflective or more agitated, and they don’t sound like abstract exercises. There are some subtle arranging touches as well; the front line of trumpet and clarinet/bass clarinet creates a rich texture, and there are times where distorted electric piano is laid on top of what sounds like prepared piano.
Through the first few tracks, this makes for a nice, perhaps somewhat muted approach, but things take an interesting left turn at the end of the CD, on the tracks Dormant, Exploding Syndrome and Ashcloud. Basically a suite within an album that could be heard as a suite, there’s an extra dose of energy and edge, topped off on the title track with vocalizations that sound like a ninja on crack. The piece ends with a rousing trumpet fanfare.
I’d like to hear more of the Sam Boshnack that’s represented at the end of Exploding Syndrome. Hopefully, she’ll continue to take some chances and develop her voice. The album is available through CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.
Here's a video clip of a live performance of the title track: