Nicolay / The Hot at Nights

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Glaciers Review

by Andy Kellman

Impeded by a hard-drive crash and conflicting schedules that necessitated a six-year gestation, Glaciers is at once a follow-up to Shibuya Session EP and distinct from everything these four musicians previously made. Keyboardist and composer Nicolay and contemporary fusionists the Hot at Nights -- Chris Boerner on guitar, Nick Baglio on drums, and Matt Douglas on woodwinds -- have recorded and performed with one another long enough to operate on an intuitive level fully explored here. Where Shibuya Session reworked songs from Nicolay's predominantly electronic City Lights, Vol. 2, Glaciers is strictly new material, thereby enabling the producer's supporting trio to stretch out. Contrary to the title, a reference to the challenges of getting the music to the public, most of the album's 40 minutes evoke steady forward motion, adeptly mixing jazz, funk, and downtempo with echoes of Blue Thumb-era Crusaders and Prince's Madhouse that range from faint to ringing. Most special is hearing Boerner play elegantly needling lines like a guitarist freshly liberated from a metal band intolerant of his habitual soundchecking with Michael Sembello's part in Stevie Wonder's "Contusion." The melodies, including several typically spirit-lifting lines from Nicolay and an abundant quantity out of Douglas' sweet-toned saxophone, are as rich and affecting as they are on any earlier release from the Foreign Exchange family. For all the inspirations this applies, it connects the quartet to a global network of like-minded progressives that includes the likes of Terrace Martin, Logan Richardson, Slowly Rolling Camera, and Kamaal Williams.

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