This is quite an impressive recording for a new group, immediately meriting praise simply for the high level of technical execution involved. The written aspects of the music, quite apparent due at least to stylistic design, are rendered in a manner that is quite impossible without sufficient rehearsal and the kind of true dedication such a commitment demands. Sadly enough, there are many more performances of this type of avant garde compositions than there are well-rehearsed performances, a fact that makes A New American Wing's self-titled CD a valuable document.
The simple cover art and the group's name might suggest a roots music project of some sort, that genre being replete with references to naturally majestic things like wings. Here, though, the type of "wing" could be more along the lines of a branch, not the wooden type, movement, or department; expressed with whatever metaphor: it is a way of suggesting that the musicians involved have staked out their own territory, put together their own philosophy, brewed their own beer...here we go again. Musicians are certainly among the arty folk who like to make such claims, the whole idea being essential to sparking interest in new groups. There are plenty of cases where the claim comes off as pretentious, but not here -- assuming that this is part of what was intended by New American Wing in the first place. The trio of guitarist Daniel Raimi, cellist Erica Sattin, and trumpeter Jacob Varmus do have a special way of working in which the sounds of their instruments in polished form is emphasized, meaning the aforementioned carefully prepared short compositions are more like chamber music than a typical jazz or rock combo. That, however, is like saying a dog is more like a giraffe than a beaver or a martin. While each member of the trio is also credited for playing little instruments such as whistles, this is not one of those tinkling, meandering, drifting Art Ensemble of Chicago type performances. Everything is stated so to the point that it is like a speech after a team of writers have poured over the language. The 16 pieces in the program, each unique, combine into a treasure trove of a listening experience; indeed, there are moments that are so beautifully done it seems as if one is sifting through a basket of jewels.