Winter Light (ACT)
Guitarist Scott DuBois has a love for visual portrayals of the evolving day; in the liner notes for Winter Light he mentions some of the paintings of Claude Monet. That influence is reflected here in his performance with his quartet: German reedman Gebhard Ullmann, American bassist Thomas Morgan, and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood. “First Light Tundra” opens with minimalist strokes before a gentle sonic texture unfolds. Against the leader’s spare guitar, Ullmann’s bass clarinet draws a more dynamic figure, perhaps denoting Aeolian blusters and dancing spears of light. At the occurrence of brief, furious flurries from the band, we may picture a coyote- discovered quail covey erupting skyward — or, as DuBois writes, “fierce crashing winds [obscuring] the approaching sunrise with f lying snow.” The scene in “Early Morning Forest” is busier with animal activity, gestured by the bass and toms, while DuBois paints the unfolding of the light. A dusky-toned interlude tells of “an ominous cold mist,” but by tune’s end Ullman’s penetrating reeds are frenetic. “Late Morning Snow” begins deep and stately, soon opening into more complex territory, but overall this piece is lean and atmospheric. Dark clouds threaten during “Noon White Mountain,” but they only yield a gentle, freezing rain. It is fascinating listening to the musicians approximating changes in weather and light and the character of different landscapes. DuBois’ dramatic compositions are spellbinding and the playing — especially Ullmann’s — is virtuosic and exciting.