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Review: Jacob Garchik's 'The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album'

November 13, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • "The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album"
"The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album" (Yestereve Records )

Jacob Garchik

"The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album"

(Yestereve Records)

Three and a half stars

There's a lot about Jacob Garchik's solo brass album that probably shouldn't work. First comes that subtitle, a vivid contradiction that reads a little like a Stephen Wright joke. But then there's its execution, where a musician of little faith deigns to reconcile his love for gospel by building a nine-part brass suite in his home studio. And yet against all odds, it works. Divinely.

A multitracked meeting of eight trombones, two baritone horns, a couple of very nimble sousaphones and a slide trumpet (all played by Garchik), "The Heavens" is a brisk listen at just under half an hour, but there's a remarkable amount of ideas and flat-out fun packed into those minutes.

Garchik has delivered the sort of boisterous, New Orleans-styled romp that lifts spirits regardless of where your faith lies. "The Problem of Suffering" is anchored by a muted brass melody that rings so brightly it almost sounds like a laugh, and "Digression on the History of Jews and Black Music" races with the fevered rush of a religious testimony anchored by Garchik's galloping sousaphone. Even with such a comparatively limited sonic palette, Garchik captures an array of moods in the swooning chorus of the title track and the controlled manic build of "Glory/Infinity/Nothing." It's a passionate one-man tent revival that elevates possibilities of individual expression to new — and higher — ground.

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