On their debut, Flathead-based jazz group Nova Combo deftly captures everything from the snappy coolness of 1980s bossa nova to the funky kick of late 1950s jazz swing.
The album plunges first into a moodier version of Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six,” where the walking bass builds a sort of spy-era soundtrack, and the call-and-answer style of guitar and saxophone lays out a noir-ish narrative. “Sea Journey” takes a full minute to collect its melody, starting first with a shimmery ripple of drums, echoes of vibraphone and flitting bass until the instruments finally merge into a 1980s beachside samba. The album’s only original song, “Blues for Nova” (written by bassist Paul Faessel), is a terrifically unruffled, jive-y piece—perfectly in place alongside the others.
“Over the Rainbow” is the odd song out, utilizing only vibraphone in hushed, mercurial textures, feeling like an intermission—though not an unwelcome one—between an otherwise saxophone-infused collection.
It’s an album full of airtight instrumentation, playful intuition and old jazz made refreshingly new. (Erika Fredrickson)
Nova Combo plays a CD-release show at Flathead Lake Brewing Co., in Bigfork, Saturday, April 26, from 4 PM to close. Free.