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Culture Watch: Jeremy Udden's Plainville: 'If the Past Seems So Bright'

June 14, 2011 |  6:00 am

Udden240 Jeremy Udden's Plainville:

'If the Past Seems So Bright'

If there are two instruments that seldom occupy the same stage (much less the same musical ZIP Code) it’s the banjo and the Fender Rhodes, a vintage electric piano heard in the hands of Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder. Add in a saxophone and some flinty electric guitar and you’ve either got a jam session prank or Jeremy Udden’s Plainville, a richly engrossing project from the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Boston saxophonist that finds new ground between jazz, instrumental rock and folk.

Though the instrumentation sounds like a gadget play, the elements come together with remarkable grace, particularly on the slow-burning "Thomas" and "New Dress," which rides a delicately spun melody from banjo player Brandon Seabrook (who fronts the experimental-minded group Seabrook Power Plant) that weaves through Udden's breathy saxophone and flickering keys by Pete Rende.

The submerged guitar echoes rising out of the sprawling opener "Sad Eyes" and the spacey keys driving the irresistible "Leland" show Udden's crew is just as comfortable carving out room in indie rock's territory, but jazz fans should be equally taken with this caliber of invention.

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— Chris Barton

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