Since moving to New York, the Michigan-born flutist Leah Paul has applied her talents in all sorts of directions and styles. She’s played in Blarvuster, the quirky chamber rock project of bagpipe virtuoso Matthew Welch, worked with composer and meta-musician Anthony Braxton and guested with the likes of TV on the Radio and Dirty Projectors. In a way, she represents the epitome of the current New York working classical musician, participating in all sorts of disparate projects without privileging any single one. Her fantastic debut album Bike Lane carves out its own particular space, but you can hear all of those experiences show themselves each fluid tune.
Paul is joined here by three musicians who also flout the rules of stylistic purity: clarinetist Chris Speed, violist Jessica Pavone and bassoonist Katherine Young. They all navigate between the worlds of jazz, experimental and contemporary music with confidence and authority. All nine tunes here are fully composed, treated with translucent contrapuntal arrangements, a serene timbre, and a sweet articulation of their pretty and elegant melodies. In fact, while operating like a sophisticated chamber ensemble, the quartet reveals a wonderfully fluid, graceful pop sensibility. There’s nothing cheap or shallow about the music, but the themes lodge in the memory like radio hits.