By Ed Enright | Published January 2018
The intersection of modern jazz and contemporary classical music became a much more interesting place last fall with the release of Autumn Wind, guitarist Scott DuBois’ album with German reedist Gebhard Ullmann, New York bassist Thomas Morgan and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood, who together constitute a longstanding quartet. An ambitious follow-up to the group’s 2015 release, Winter Light (ACT), the new recording features 12 interrelated DuBois compositions, each one starting with a different note that effectively creates a 12-tone row—which DuBois uses as a recurring musical device throughout the extended work. Conceptual elements run deeper still with the superimposition of a traditional string quartet (violins, viola, cello) and an orchestral woodwind quartet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon) over certain pieces, creating dense textures that thicken the highly ambient atmosphere. This is the sound of seemingly disparate worlds coming together in an impressionistic weave of minimalism, serialism, nostalgic Americana, careful orchestration and unfettered free improvisation—music that’s as delicate as it is bold. DuBois starts the program solo, his guitar conjuring vast soundscapes that help establish the album’s reflective, change-of-seasons mood and foretell of stormier days and darker nights to come as autumn progresses. Subsequent pieces gradually add instrumental voices and build in intensity until everything culminates in a finale for 12 musicians, structured upon DuBois’ now-complete 12-tone row. A 13th track, “Mid-November Moonlit Forest String Quartet Reprise,” ends the album in quiet reflection. Despite the headier aspects of Autumn Wind, listeners need neither a Ph.D. nor a calendar to enjoy this profoundly beautiful, genre-dissolving album.