Mike Casey- The Beauty of Everyday Life (Track Review)

Written by Pat Moran

Although he’s previously focused on a supple sax/bass/drums trio format, Los Angeles-based jazz saxophonist/composer Mike Casey has never been a jazz purist. He seems to have never been a part of the classicist school, once trumpeted by Wynton Marsalis, which grabs onto the fluid, free-flowing rush of hard bop and freezes it in amber as “the real jazz,” to be displayed as a museum piece.

Instead, Casey has coupled astonishing breath control with gentle technique, rendering inspirations as disparate as dubstep, hip hop, R&B and funk into hypnotic poetic melodies. 

“The Beauty of Everyday Life,” which dropped April 22, is Casey’s first single from his forthcoming album. The composition holds onto all of Casey’s signature tropes and techniques, and then slingshots them out of our solar system toward the Pleiades and beyond. He does so by expanding his composer’s palette, adding needle-sharp guitar, lush cascading harp, rolling organ and bipolar antic/languid piano to his signature sax/bass/drum set-up. 

The resulting tapestry uses sound to emulate the astonishing architecture at Ciutat de les Arts i Ciències (The City of Arts and Sciences) complex, near the Berklee School of Music campus in Valencia, Spain, where Casey attended classes. Buildings at the complex are breathtaking semi-aquatic biomechanical structures. One resembles Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarine crossed with a baleen whale, while another mimics a massive cyborg horseshoe crab.

Setting the stage with metronomic, slightly dissonant piano and subterranean bass, “The Beauty of Everyday Life” traverses a marshy netherworld of splashy drums, fluttering guitar and ghostly whips of saxophone, before hitting harder ground with a series of ascending piano chords that serve as a launching pad for Casey’s optimistic flights of feathered sax. Amid piano and harp glissandos, Casey’s sax threads through spacey curlicues of guitar and a rampaging phalanx of drums before tangling with an intricate knot of coiling piano. It is here, as the piece charges to a cacophonous, triumphant and uplifting conclusion, that Casey makes room for “real jazz” conventions. His luxurious, rambunctious “The Beauty of Everyday Life” even makes room for hard bop conventions.

Check it out

Leave a comment