One thing that the latest birth of musical ingenuity in modern art has brought about is the latest slew of innovators ready and willing to mix and mash the tried-and-tested together until they make something shiny and new. Whether we’re talking precocious genre-benders like the Accidentals (who’ve been commonly described as somewhere between folk, jazz, classical, bluegrass, and rock by their critics) or more fully instrumental constructs of studied musical perceptions like Kaki King and Andy McKee (who’ve expanded what it even means to perform a composition), we’ve had our fair share of talent come out of the woodwork in this regard over the most recent years.
With that said, maybe it’s in his choice to directly delve into the realm of avant-garde jazz-meets-baroque composition, or perhaps it’s more-so in the unique means by which he plays the alto, tenor, and brass saxophones that he’s become so known for, but either way, Nick Zoulek proves to be one such innovator on Rushing Past Willow. His claims to the title, such as playing through oft-repetitious circular breathing and vocal techniques, aid him in developing a world in which there are multiple layers to uncover through its twelve erratic movements.
It’s such an idiosyncratic release that it nearly comes across as hard to score—and indeed, with anything as truly new and fresh as Zoulek’s work, mileage will vary—but in acknowledging the pure mindfulness and talent needed to construct such an individualistic world around the oft-underutilized saxophone, much respect is paid to the composer.