AMN Reviews: Polyorchard – Ink [Out & Gone]

Ink is a generous, two-CD set of improvisations from trombonist Jeb Bishop and double bassist David Menestres, playing under the name of Polyorchard, Menestres’ ongoing group project with fluid membership. The music is all live, having been recorded during a 2019 tour that saw Bishop and Menestres in Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio.

Over the course of the album’s seven tracks and more than 90 minutes Bishop and Menestres tease out an ever-changing but cohesive set of sounds crafted from sophisticated musical vocabularies. Menestres draws equally on both conventional improvisational bass practices—setting out supporting ostinatoes and walking lines, playing rapid counterpoint, bowing fluid melodies—and on extended techniques and the use of preparations for creating music of timbral variety and salience. As he’s demonstrated on previous recordings, he’s fluent in both languages of performance and moves freely between them, to all appearances guided only by the musical relevance of any given technique at any given time. Bishop is a good match for Menestres; his sound is rooted in a sensibility aware of the full history of the trombone from its beginnings in blues and early jazz to its use in more reductive, contemporary contexts. He plays melodies informed by swing or march rhythms, alludes to the classic big band brass sections with his use of wah wah effects—and then pivots to the cutting edge contemporary sounds of air notes, microtones, drones, multiphonics and more.

A fine set of music from two exciting and thoughtful instrumentalists.

Daniel Barbiero