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Album review: 'Bluer Than You Think' 

Cowboys and Frenchmen

"Bluer Than You Think"

Outside In Music

After reviewing hundreds of jazz albums, I'm always looking for something refreshing and new. An album by a band incongruously named Cowboys and Frenchmen seemed promising, and "Bluer Than You Think" did not disappoint. The group's name was inspired by a short film by David Lynch, "The Cowboy and The Frenchman." This offbeat take on the Western film genre is an apt metaphor for the group's beautifully twisted approach to jazz. The disc is overflowing with unpredictable melodic turns, unusual voicings, and unorthodox rhythms.

The group's two leaders, saxophonists Owen Broder and Ethan Helm, and pianist Chris Ziemba all attended the Eastman School of Music. They're joined by Ethan O'Reilly on bass and drummer Matt Honor. Ryan Truesdell, who won a Grammy Award for his work with the Gil Evans Project, produced the album. Compositions, all but one of which are by group members, range from catchy melodies (like the title tune) to serial patterns ("Beasts"); from runaway horn lines ("Clear Head") to beautiful ballads ("Lilies Under The Bridge"). The common denominators are originality and innovative improvisation.

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