WBGO Radar

The Auction Project: Slink

The Auction Project's CD Slink

The Auction Project's album Slink stakes out uncommon musical territory, a place where Celtic reels merge with gospel and funk, as if it were the most natural thing on earth.

In these hands, this combination does sound perfectly natural, and at times transcendent - with Dave Bixler on alto sax, Heather Martin Bixler on violin, Arturo O'Farrill on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass and Vince Cherico on drums, with a guest appearance by Mike Stern on electric guitar.

"Marquis of Huntley" is one track that demonstrates the unlikely chemistry between these two genres: Heather Martin Bixler takes the Scottish Strathspey dance rhythm and folds it into Cherico's funky groove.

"Richie Dwyer's Reel" takes an Irish tune down a different path, into straight-ahead swing. On "Heron's Egg," O'Farrill and De Rosa find inspiration in the syncopated pattern of an Irish jig to take flight into a Cuban fantasy.

Heather Martin Bixler's violin offers several of the album's most revelatory moments: she takes "The Wind That Shakes The Barley," a nineteenth-century ballad of Irish rebellion, and turns it into a quiet duet with O'Farrill, which sets an evocative scene with just the right measures of jazz improvisation and Irish ornamentation. 

Her hymn-like composition "Workmanship" closes the album, with high lonesome touches on guitar added by Stern. As elsewhere of this album, no one overplays, which only adds to the flavor.

"The trust and absence of unnecessary ego result in moments of trapeze-like abandonment," says O'Farrill, "where it feels like flying." 

 - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

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