"Midnight at Monteton" commemorates a transformative time in the life and creative output of pianist/composer Becky Archibald and is her sixth release to date. Archibald’s previous albums were often referred to “jazzy” (I’m sure I did!), but with her classical training, she felt there was still so much she wanted to know about the art form. The recipient of a Creative Renewal Grant from the Arts Council in Indianapolis in 2008, Archibald had the opportunity to study jazz at the Dordogne International Jazz Summer School (DJSS) in Monteton, France. Five years later, the fruits of that experience have manifested themselves in this very solid, “jazzy” CD. With an impressive band that includes sax, bass clarinet, bass, drums, brass, flute, guitars, and, of course, Archibald on piano, this music is bright, rhythmic, sometimes lyrical and smooth, and a joy to listen to. There is just enough structure to keep the music cohesive and melodic blended with feelings of freedom and spontaneity that are absolutely infectious. Three beautiful solo piano bonus tracks grace the end of the album after the twelve exceptional ensemble pieces. There is no filler on anywhere!
"Midnight at Monteton" begins with the playful “Deux Chapeaux,” which was inspired by a friend who showed Archibald how cool a bass clarinet can sound in jazz. Alto sax, piano, electric bass and drums round out the combo and create a smooth, breezy sound that I love. “Once is Not Enough” has more of a “Spanish/ Latin/ Soulful” vibe and features the outstanding sax playing of Jim Farrelly. A relaxed but compelling rhythm drives this piece and gives it a real groove. Great stuff! “Can’t Let It Go” kicks up the tempo to a danceable beat that never lags. “Lullaby” was written for Archibald’s grandmother’s 90th birthday, and is as soothing and peaceful as they come - gorgeous! “One-O-Four” refers to the outside temperature the day the piece was written. The strong Latin beat gets the soprano sax soaring while the guitar cools things down a bit. “Lemonade” is another favorite. Feel-good blues gets the toes tapping as tenor sax, flugelhorn, piano, bass, and drums find a slinky groove. Love it! “If You Only Knew” features Jim Farrelly on alto flute and Sandy Williams on guitars, creating feelings of ease and contentment as the hypnotic, swaying rhythm mesmerizes. “Bullet Proof Blues” again kicks up the tempo in the spirit of carefree fun with some musical pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure. I’ve always loved Archibald’s solo piano music, so the three solo bonus tracks are wonderful. A bit more classical than the ensemble music, it’s a beautiful mixture of musical genres that gives Archibald’s pieces a very distinctive sound.
Congratulations to Becky Archibald for pursuing a dream and making such wonderful new music with it! "Midnight at Monteton" is available from www.beckyarchibald.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!