Bar code: 8427328424974
01. Therefore 4:28
02. Epilogue 1:17
03. New Deal 5:14
04. Air 6:04
05. Gym Jam 5:15
06. Six 1:11
07. Three Days After 4:44
08. Begining 2:29
09. Minor Tragedy 3:15
10. Transition 2:55
11. Old Recipe 5:32
12. Major Issues 4:43
13. Short Piece 1:46
14. The Bean 8:12
Total time: 56:00 min. approx.
All songs composed by Albert Vila
Albert Vila (guitar), Aaron Parks (piano), Doug Weiss (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums).
Recorded at Acoustic Recording Studio, Brooklyn, NY, May 4 & 5, 2014
Tracks #8 & 13 recorded at the Room Producciones Musicales, Barcelona, June 18, 2014
Recording engineer: Michael Brorby
Mixed & mastered at Avatar Studios by Katsuhiko Naito
Illustration & design: Sagar Fornies
Photo: Daniel Hilsinger
Produced by Albert Vila
Executive Producer: Jordi Pujol
"The Spanish guitarist recorded this album in Brooklyn and if you don’t know his name, you might know his band mates: pianist Aaron Parks, drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Doug Weiss.
The album title comes from Edgar Allan Poe – “I have no time for idle cares/Through gazing on the unquiet sky” – and there is a feeling of searching for the bigger, more complicated picture in the music.
It opens with a virtuoso solo introduction showing Vila’s clear, rounded, bell-like tone, before the band comes in. It’s a busy song with space for Parks to stretch out before he hands over to Vila. This easy passing back and forth between the instruments is a hallmark of the album as a whole, with New Deal, The Bean and Minor Tragedy being prime examples.
Air is one of my favourites – a slower piece with Vila winding out a long-legged poignant theme before letting Weiss take over, then the guitarist lays out a solo of increasing optimism against a more propulsive groove. Gym Jam has a beautifully handled tension and release in its structure, and Vila’s solo is a delight.
There are a few short linking pieces between the longer tracks which act a bit like palate cleansers between the more substantial courses of a meal – the overall effect is to give the album a good, varied flow.
A most satisfying listen."
Peter Bacon (May 26, 2016)
"'Therefore', the first track on the new CD from Albert Vila, picks you up and shakes you from moment one in the opening track 'Therefore' with a total show of strength from Albert’s fast cross picked solo guitar intro. Cut from the same cloth that artists like Julian Lage and Pat Metheny come from, every note makes sense and totally sets up the body of the tune when the band comes in. In general, I am someone that can’t listen to a guitarist just for great technique or soloing, there has to be great writing in the compositions. Aaron Parks’ nimble piano is constantly conversing back and forth with Albert’s guitar, and they are an excellent musical pairing for each other.
The second track 'Epilogue' provides that, and is sort of a transitional musical glue to get you to 'New Deal', a piece that sort of gives you a feeling of a journey, which is a feeling that is really present in the whole record. He builds his solo beautifully, until passing it for a very cool interplay solo between Parks’ piano and Jeff Ballard’s drums. The track goes out with a vamp over Vila’s haunting and angular melodic guitar theme.
After all of this, 'Air' is positioned as a “sherbet course” to cleanse the musical palate with something pretty and introspective, which gives us a very nice bass solo from Weiss. The track ends with another cool repeating guitar figure, and a pretty pastoral piano color takes it out.
'Gym Jam' is an aptly named athletic little work out in ¾ time. As always with Vila, a song is never just an excuse to solo, so there’s another strong melody that the tune is built on. The composition won him a Dutch jazz composition award, and you can hear why. This leads to 'Six', an interesting “tone row” type line on the guitar that repeats and lets the drums have some fun reacting to it as it passes by, which sets up the next piece nicely.
'Three Days After' goes aggressive to really change things up now, with some really interesting rhythmic groupings. This tune must have really taken some rehearsal, because these guys make playing over this time modulating groove sound natural and easy, they have it way beyond the point of having to count it. Albert pulls out a guitar synthesizer for his solo on this one, and he definitely shows his ability to go outside the harmony on this one. I’d like to see him do a lot more of this kind of playing both in terms of the synth sound and the sort of outside kind of writing, this might have been my favorite solo from him on the record. The tune ends on a question mark, leaving you wanting more.
'Beginning', a great solo guitar piece, brings you to a more introspective mood. Vila interweaves in some beautiful harmonics with his fretted notes, and then goes into a series of heartfelt arpeggiated single lines to conclude.
'Minor Tragedy' is just like it sounds, a mid tempo brooding piece in ¾, and features a nicely crafted solo from Vila. The tune seamlessly transitions into the aptly titled 'Transition', which begins in ¾ and then moves to an interesting sort of “fractured time” metric modulation section where the melody stays the same but the time changes underneath it, gradually transitioning to 7/4 for a great piano solo from Parks. Ballard uses the same manipulation of the time feel to take us back to ¾ and out.
'Old Recipe' is just a total hard swingin’ old school groove, with a great bluesy head melody that you’d love to hear done in your favorite jazz club live.
'Major Issues' starts with a great hypnotic repeated guitar line, and never stops simmering along from the peculating piano solo to the guitar solo. Doug Weiss on upright bass and Ballard on drums burn up it up underneath the soloists, and then Ballard plays a fiery drum solo over a repeating figure out.
There’s another beautiful solo piece from Albert after that, 'Short Piece', and Via gets a big and beautiful sound out of his instrument, with the piece ending on a sort of anticipatory feeling.
'The Bean' winds the CD up. It’s an interesting medium tempo piece in seven, and Weiss and Ballard keep it loose and flowing throughout. Ballard and the whole band improvise rhythmically over a repeated figure at the end and slowly let off steam to the end.
Vila’s band always brings to mind the Pat Metheny Group in terms of how strong the compositions are and how much the soloing exists to drive the songs forward musically and dramatically – everything takes you somewhere. This new young guitarist comes to us from Spain via a Dutch Jazz Competition, which got him a scholarship to the graduate program at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with the likes of Dave Leibman and Rodney Jones – so you know that there’s going to be a lot more to come from this very talented musician."
Doug Perkins (April 1, 2016)
"Belgium-based Spanish jazz guitarist Albert Vila delivers his fourth album as leader with The Unquiet Sky, offering a tad more music than a standard album with a presentation of fourteen original compositions of modern-styled jazz that's quite appealing. There's little question whose recording this is as the leader's electric guitar voice becomes the center-piece of the disc from the opening tune.
Except for two tracks documented in Barcelona, Spain (Vila's home town), the project was recorded in New York featuring an all New York-based rhythm section of Seattle-born pianist Aaron Parks, Chicago native, bassist and New School University educator Doug Weiss with Brad Mehldau Trio member, Jeff Ballard rounding out the rhythms on the drums—all forming one formidable modern quartet that swings often here.
Introducing the music with an inviting solo on the beginning "Therefore," Vila leads the group on an adventuristic musical journey through the modern side of the jazz spectrum revealing his talents as a composer with challenging charts like "New Deal," the perky "Gym Jam," and the light atmospheric "Air," just to name a few.
Sounding much like a hard-rock disciple, Vila opens up in rough style on the dark-textured "Three Days After" with strong riffs and a hard beat while, the following brief "Beginning," comes across in warm colors with pleasant soft solo statements from the leader. When you have plenty of music to offer, there will always be many tracks that will draw your attention and there are several defining pieces on this recording of which, the swinging "Old Recipe" is one, offering distinct voices of guitar, piano, bass and drums all in terrific form.
The music ends with two more of those defining tunes: "Major Issues" and the most ambitious and finale piece of the set, "The Bean" where Vila's solos are the most expressive as his band mates weigh in with splendid moments of their own especially young Parks whose aggressive key work is more than complimentary to the leader.
There's no standards, no ballads and no bebop here but that's what makes Albert Vila's The Unquiet Sky so special as the guitarist and renowned crew, forge an impressive well-designed escape from the traditional side of jazz in favor of exploring the more creative and challenging aspects of modern music."
-Edward Blanco (May 1, 2016)
"Barcelona is his hometown, and Brussels is now his base, but for his fourth album Vila recorded in Brooklyn. The compositions are all his and included is ‘Gym Jam’, the tune that won him first prize in the Dutch Jazz Competition of 2004.
The guitarist’s sound and style, as well as his compositions, feel more strongly aligned with the modern conventions on that side of the Atlantic rather than with European jazz - indeed the cover art is of Manhattan and the title comes from Edgar Allan Poe.
Generally the mood is optimistic, despite that foreboding title, with Vila’s clear, round tone and clearly articulated ideas riding nicely above the trio. ‘Three Days After’ has a rising four-chord rock riff which is just about saved from becoming turgid by the nifty stutter-rhythms that Ballard inserts to break it up. More representative are ‘The Bean’ and ‘Minor Tragedy’ which wind easily through all four instruments, synthesising the compositions and improvisations into pleasing wholes. ‘New Deal’ has a good cruise speed and forward motion, and ‘Air’ is a spacious ballad that gives Weiss some room to solo. Parks is richly expansive whether in support or soloing."
JazzWise (May, 2016)
"Vila’s latest CD— recorded in New York—features long, tightly composed works, interspersed with shorter pieces of solo guitar. He starts from relatively simple lines, which become increasingly faster and more complex as the song progresses. The tonality of Vila’s guitar ranges between the aggressive, hard, and fast, to the lyrical and “soft”. In other words, the man knows how to mix things up.
Do not think that the simpler tunes are empty, though: every song is passionate in its own way, and leads usually in an unexpected direction. Vila weaves his musical scales (that is not to say he is purely technical or mechanical) and easily knits a creative web around his starting themes. He puts himself in the labyrinth to find, thanks to his ingenuity, a way out.
It is wonderful to hear how he builds the melody and tension, while the band either follows him closely... or just goes on the offensive (in terms of rhythm) and challenges him in a way that enriches the whole. In terms of sound and structure, it made us think often of Pat Metheney. The work of the drummer (a Brad Mehldau bandmate) is felt on the foundation of the music, in strikingly clashing rhythms that give the tunes extra tension. The rhythm section in Vila-s compositions is always busy and complex.
The piano of the energetic and passionate Parks swings nicely, either in unison, or going against the grain. These three musicians don’t fit the classic jazz bill—they explore the road of contemporary jazz, devoid of style influences. The trio provides the perfect support that allows for some restless exploration of all possible variations on the main theme. Spanish blood is thicker than water… Aided by his musicians, Vila succeeds—but always the restless seeker, he clearly leaves his mark on the atmosphere of the entire CD. This really is a must for those who love quality jazz guitar!"
Marc Van de Walle (Aug. 16, 2016)