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Devin Roth – Childhood Places

Hectic fun, exotic sounds, and moments of transcendent glory. Devin Roth’s Childhood Places takes the listener on a deep journey of jazz powered imagination.

devin roth childhood places‘The Quarry’ kicks off the album with an appropriate level of passion and intensity, it’s challenging and unusual 7/8 tempo immediately giving the listener something to pay attention to and get lost in. The brass offers some fun melodies that weave in and out around the sauntering drums, forming a real dialogue across the instrumentation. There is immediately a sense of classic jazz meeting a modern approach, as the piano notes wander back and forth in a laid back lounge fashion, while those heavy bass notes continue to thunder in the background in ways that almost seem to nod towards influences from the metal genre. After the hectic fun of the album’s opening track, ‘Longing’ eases things up a little, with meandering notes that take the listener on a journey that moves into an almost mythological place of wonder and imagination, while things begin to pick up the pace once more on ‘Thelma’, with its exotic sounds and wandering confidence. ‘Kettle River’ lays down a thrilling piano part that is gradually built upon, becoming cinematic in its scale and breadth. As the track gets beyond its mid point and hurtles towards its conclusion, things get moody, almost schizophrenic in that way it leans in and out, the drums freestyling while the bass notes thunder along.

rich like good coffee

Childhood Places as an album take all kinds of twists and turns, with a real sense of journey. ‘Losing A Winning Battle’ serves as a relaxing pit stop along the way, rich like good coffee and with a personality to it that likes to take its time and savour the situation. Devin Roth’s confident piano work holds the recordings together throughout, serving as a solid foundation to the album, while Ehud Ettun’s characteristic bass performance adds an eccentricity that doesn’t distract from the music’s originality. It’s on the brass parts in particular that the joy really sparkles, with ‘Borderline Blues’ at times leaning towards the work of Fred Frith and Henry Cow, the genius being in how Roth’s compositions manage to walk the delicate line between carefully crafted and utterly improvised. There are moments of yearning hope found here as well – ‘Mountain Dream’ has fragments of classic church hymn motifs to be found if you choose to dig a little deeper, giving the track a kind of transcendent glory that almost reaches for the Divine. ‘Okanagan Mountain’ moves on from the dream to the reality itself, a glacial moment of heading upwards into the clouds as the air becomes thinner, as the sonic landscape unfolds to form a breathtaking vista. This is music to allow the imagination to run away with itself, to allow the notes to form their own images and stories as the listener is carried along.

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