Remote Location (Sunny Sky; 2012)
Óskar Guðjónsson (sax)
Andrés Thor (guitar)
Sunna Gunnlaugs (piano)
Róbert Þórhallsson (bass)
I've said before that Scott McLemore has this great versatility. It's akin to Paul Motian or Billy Higgins. He moves effortlessly between gentle and fierce that the listener is never really surprised. Also, since his last album as leader, Found Music, his writing as grown immensely. Through his projects with ASA Trio and Sunna Gunnluags, McLemore has crafted a compositional skill that is both relaxed and very studied. A reflective writer that allows his group room to breathe and expand. All this is very clear on his second album out in front, Remote Location.
And mature is definitely how this outing sounds. "Remote Location" while thematically it might reference a distant place, it also gives you sense of place within yourself. An introspective feeling but with outward emotion. Porhallsson and Gunnlaugs share some beautiful exchanges within McLemore's timely construction.
"Citizen Sitting Zen" is blissful with its chirping bird sounds just underneath the Porhallsson's bass and Thor's infinite guitar. A piece that gently moves forward and back between Guojonsson's soothing melody and Gunnlaugs precision tones on piano.
McLemore continually shows his skill as a leader, allowing the quintet to freely revolve and craft the tunes. "Charlottesville" and "Woods At Night" are possibly the most contemporary I've heard McLemore from the writing perspective. They're both laid back with an almost West Coast style that is enjoyable and pleasing. McLemore's kit reverberates with grace and beauty. More prominent on "Woods At Night," but both having a very personal feel that you will immediately connect with at first spin.
"Movement For Motian" is a loving dedication to the late drummer. The timing and emotion that slide through Thor's guitar and Guojonsson's sax add distinct colour and fragility. McLemore's touch is understated, just like the legendary drummer. A perfect and solemn tribute.
Remote Location is wonderful step forward for Scott McLemore as a composer and leader. His style, patience and performance is quietly gaining steam. You would be best to jump on board this train before it gets too crowded. Remote Location just might creep up on you and become one of your favourite records this year. It has for me...Highly Recommended.