Moving Still is the eagerly-awaited follow-up to trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson’s Moment and the Message, which was voted the top Album by a Debut Artist in the 2013 NPR Jazz Critics Poll and proclaimed “intricate and alluring, melodic but daring, riveting and rare” by Popmatters. Well regarded among fellow musicians for his ability to negotiate complex musical material and his decidedly personal sound and improvisational style, Finlayson was named the Number One Rising Star Trumpeter in the 2014 Downbeat Critics Poll. He has been a member of alto saxophonist Steve Coleman’s Five Elements for over 15 years, while also playing regularly with the likes of such cutting-edge artists as Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, Muhal Richard Abrams and Henry Threadgill.
Moving Still is filled with enthralling twists and turns, a hallmark of Finlayson’s compositional style. As usual, there is far more to his work than might readily appear. Even though the pieces move forward with a clear thrust, instrumental voices rarely move in unison and counterpoint almost always holds sway. This is apparent on “Flank and Center,” where the melody utilizes hockets - a series of three and two notes played in turn by three voices, a pointillistic effect that is carried throughout the piece. “Space And” is based on a traditional bell pattern of the Dagomba of present-day Northern Ghana while “Folk Song” is inspired by an Afro Cuban melody from the song cycle devoted to Oshun, a deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Ifá and Yoruba religions. “Cap vs Nim” is based on a celebrated chess match between the grandmasters José Raúl Capablanca and Aron Nimzowitsch wherein Finlayson assigned harmonic values to positions on the board with the melody determined by the origin and destination of each move. Guitarist Mile Okazaki states of the music: “It demands restraint and balance. It breathes and moves along unencumbered. You join in for the trip, but travel light and watch your step, because Finlayson will surely take a turn that you don’t expect.”
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