Stephan Crump's gorgeous debut reveals a storyteller's sensibility and, as the title suggests, a poet's penchant for conjuring images and moods. The Brooklyn-based bassist is supported by Chris Cheek on sax, Roberta Piket on piano, and Rob Garcia on drums. The prevailing mood is dark, the playing wonderful, and the messages genuinely personal and affecting. An independent release, the disc is even handsomely packaged, underscoring Crump's uncommonly fine-tuned aesthetic approach.
"Ashed Rain," a macabre reference to the Holocaust inspired by Art Spiegelman's Maus, appears in two different incarnations at the beginning and near the end of the album. In between, highlights include the slow, singable melody of "Away From, A Way To"; the winding, funky lines of "Eagle Pass"; the mysterious and at times frenetic "Migraine"; and the refined bossa nova beauty of "And It Was Magic." Things get a little somber during the three-tune stretch of "Granny's Tacklebox," "Morning," and "The Long Way Home (pour Maman)," although the latter two, both waltzes, are quite distinctive and memorable.