Tied Together, Not to the Ground
Tied Together, Not to the Ground is the debut album from bassist/composer/bandleader Andrew Schiller, who unveils his unique writing style in this evocative 10-song collection, showcasing a group of adventurous and like-minded musicians. The Andrew Schiller Quintet is: Hery Paz (tenor saxophone), Alec Harper (tenor saxophone), Frank Carlberg (piano), Robin Baytas (drums), and Schiller (bass).
The compositions cover a broad spectrum but maintain a strong underlying theme through Schiller’s unifying compositional aesthetic. The album’s title refers to Schiller’s own attempt to hold on to his identity, his memories, and his beliefs without letting the weight of nostalgia cause stagnation.
Tracks summon array of remembrances and imagery-pivotal places, experiences and encounters, not just as a scrapbook of journeys, but as a gentle reminder to take the occasional leap forward into the unknown.
Little Shoes, begins with a sparse mantra-like statement between saxophone and drums. The introduction of an intervallic counter-melody signals the gradual transformation of the theme and the piece takes on a lush yearning quality.
Ho Get Em Tiger! comes out with all guns blazing, a dynamic contrapuntal duel between the horns and rhythm section. The fragmented waltz emulates the gyrating of a fan with a broken blade rather than the glide of a ballroom dance.
Dancing to Tink Tink would require some well-timed and La La Land choreography, but the song does have an infectious quality that makes one want to move. The bubbly melody, played in harmony by the saxophonists, makes frequents steps away from a home key but remains memorable nonetheless.
Soloists Schiller (bass), Paz (tenor sax), and Robin Baytas (drums) not only navigate the form with deftness, but build upon the sing-song, frolicking nature of the tune. Gluckschmerz is a five-and-a-half minute roller coaster ride. The break-neck, intervallic melody is matched by an equally turbulent counter-line from the rhythm section. The improvisation begins with the two tenor saxophonists, Harper and Paz, trading phrases. This quickly turns into a full-band rollicking collective improvisation. A drum solo from Baytas emerges from all of this, catapulting the piece towards a restatement of the melody.
The title track is introduced by a brief meditation. This ballad drifts patiently forward without a strongly defined beat and the melody is divided between the saxophonists (first Harper, then Paz). A piano solo from Frank Carlberg emphasizes the nostalgic and playful character of the piece. The return of the melody builds momentarily in intensity but dissipates gradually, finally reaching the finish line at a crawl.