Springdale Quartet "Heist"
Words By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Boulder's Springdale Quartet have been one of my favorite bands in Colorado since the first time I saw them. Their blend of sophisticated jazz-funk had more muscle than other similar acts. Months ago, I heard they were recording an album with Soulive's Alan Evans as producer and I was anxious to hear the results. "Heist" began with the title track, guitarist Ben Waligoske and key player Chase Terzian began laying down a groove that felt a little reserved to me at first. Waligoske's guitar normally soared a little more than the tune acknowledged, though by the end of the song, the tension had built, and the action picked up.
"Anniversary" has been a part of their live shows over the last year, and featured the first glimpse of Waligoske's shredding. The combination of searing tone and rapid playing created an explosive energy that was relentless. "Charlee Jean" had the feel of a sigh of relief as a grooving bass line sat below sparse keys. The Guitar soared like a base jumper. One big step and it was off amongst the clouds. From the aerial view, the dance-provoking jazz accompaniment dropped sonic landscapes of texture and tone below. "Norg (Underwater)" had a mellow groove that rolled in waves of energy bursts. At certain points the guitar would lead the way to lofty peaks as the organ laid in psychedelic backdrops. The jam was slightly murky and had echo/reverb effects that were serene, aquatic, and visceral... The overall effect, that of "funk to snorkel by."
"IBM 22" was a favorite track of mine. I'd heard it live on a few occasions, and have always loved Jordan Roos' disco-funk bass groove. It was old school and funkalicious. The explosive bursts of guitar in this song were more reminiscent of the energy spikes in a live performance by the Quartet than the rest of the album. "Cubicons" reminded me a lot of Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood at times. The progressions in this song seemed to be relatively tame by SQ's standards, but the track added to the big picture by providing some contrast to the plethora of progressive jazz mania that dominated the record.
"Boomer" jumped from the gate and Ben's guitar once again took command, leading the band through part jazz, part rock, part haunting territory as they made their way back to the hook. The haunting section had the vibe of an incredibly innovative and viscious jam that may have been my favorite part of the album. "Say It Ain't So" wasn't a surprise to Springdale's regular crowd, as their instrumental take has been a crowd favorite for a while, but it was nice to hear a polished and mastered recording of the classic. Chase's organ work laid the foundation of their version, and once again Benny crushed it when it counted.
"Escape" was the denouement, and gently let me down as Heist faded into the night like a whisper in the wind. The falling action was needed after such a dynamic album. It also helped solidify the concept. From it's timid beginning to it's airy ending, the album could have been just like a real heist. Quietly sneaking into the museum, taking out the guards, lifting famous paintings, and slipping away quietly, never to be caught. From cryptic song titles to action-packed musical themes, Heist had excellent continuity. Alan Evans did a fantastic job of bringing some of his soul to the project and highlighting the Quartet's talents. Pick up a copy of Heist, and listen to the Quartet getting away with it.