I’m rarely at a loss for words. (Whether that’s a virtue or an annoyance, I leave to you.) So when some new music hits me so deliciously hard that I think, “I don’t know how to write about this,” that phenomenon is fascinating. I assure you it’s not pandemic-isolation brain: it’s being in the presence of something texturally and emotionally rich that doesn’t neatly compartmentalize itself.
To be precise, I am referring to EARLY RISERS, a brand-new 2 CD release by John Scurry’s Reverse Swing (Lionshare Records). John is — in no order and all at once — guitarist / painter / composer / optimistic seeker. The discs feature a variety of John’s compositions, and for once when I read those words on a new release, it inspires happy anticipation, not anxiety.
As I told a friend after hearing the first disc, “If I heard this coming from another room, I would say ‘What IS that?’ in happy astonishment and go to the speaker to get closer, to drink it in, to find out more.
Let me encourage you to follow me towards that sound source . . . https://lionsharecords.com/album/early-risers — if you scroll down — you can hear EARLY RISERS, CLANDESTINE, CHEERS ANTIOCH, EGYPTIAN VIOLET. And you can read the liner notes. Please do. Take your time, and report back.
Isn’t that the damnedest beautiful thing?
Jazz listeners who like experience in little Lego units can say I HEAR THIS and A TOUCH OF THAT. Some already have their little pads out, noting, “That phrase sounds just like —— on his Atlantic release in 1954.” Knock yourself out, pals.
But I can only describe John’s music metaphorically. A bed with brightly-colored coverlets, already warm, with the promise of birdsong in the next morning outside the window. Music that when you have to drive to the station, it’s escaped into the neighbor’s garden after climbing the roof. And other times it cozies itself into your lap, purring. Or it’s like the first forkful of a new ethnic rice dish, whose flavors you can’t quite identify, until you say, “Is that cinnamon? Is that preserved lemon peel? Wow!” It’s like a few kind sentences coming from a person you have never known to be easily kind.
Or look again at John’s painting above. Simple objects carefully and carelessly arranged, balanced and precarious, quietly vibrating with feeling. (Morandi reminds me of Scurry.) His musics, and the plural is intentional, come from the same human(e) source.
I’ve run out of metaphors, but your ears will show you the way.
I hope EARLY RISERS warms and cheers you as it does me. Or if it doesn’t today, come back and peer at it again. It’s impossible to anatomize, but that is its charm: it’s alive. And it plans to stay that way.
In case you lost your way in my at-a-loss-for-words that turned into words, I nudge you again to https://lionsharecords.com/album/early-risers
May your happiness increase!