Saturday, January 7, 2012

7.) Isla - Portico Quartet (Top Jazz Picks '11)

Portico Quartet
Real World Recordings.

Portico Quartet doesn’t really fit into this list’s emphasis on veteran-heavy, household names, in no small part because they’re a group of twenty-something outsiders to jazz’s often purist tenets. But forget that: despite their greenhorn status, Portico Quartet show a breadth of talent that thrives outside of the genre’s comfortable expectations.

Wielding the unlikely choice of hang – a percussive instrument that creates a variety of tones not unlike a steel drum – one would imagine Portico Quartet’s sound as being warm and sunny. Not the case. While Isla does feature vague Caribbean connotations on account of the hang, it’s clouded by tense instrumentation and overcast arrangements that have validated constant comparisons to – of all bands – Radiohead. Like the catalog of that celebrated rock group, Isla illustrates the sort of unexplored universe modern music needs more of. 

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