No piano and no drums, but it works. The Rhythm Future Quartet brings a different approach with Travels (Magic Fiddle Music, 2016).
The musicians are Jason Anick, violin; Olli Soikkeli, lead guitar; Max O’Rourke, guitar; and Greg Loughman, bass. The group gets its name from the Django Reinhardt composition, “Rhythm Futur.”
Loughman composed the opener, “Iberian Sunrise.” It sets the tone for this gypsy jazz offering. With one guitar carrying the rhythm, the other pairs up with the violin for a delightful duet. Then, the gear shifts. The guitars and bass accelerate to a frantic pace. A while later, the violin rejoins. The sound conjures a visual of time-lapse photography of a city with commuters going to work as the sun climbs into the sky. Another shift changes the view from wide angle to close-up of the hustle and bustle.
“Travels,” penned by the guitarists, begins softly, calmly. The violin/guitar melody has a haunting beauty. Anick briefly delivers a layered phrase in pizzicato to supplement the conventional playing. After an ethereal violin passage, Soikkeli picks up, as the song takes on a more jaunty mood.
The track reflects the nomadic nature of a touring band and its members. Anick says, “Over the past two and a half years, the group has done extensive traveling all over the world.” The musicians used that time to compose and co-arrange the material for this record.
Anick, 30, is one of the youngest instructors at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music. He has shared the stage with such luminaries as Stevie Wonder and John Sebastian. Soikkeli was born in 1991 in Nurmes, Finland. He began playing guitar at the age of 12. He has been referred to as the “Finnish Boy Wonder.” O’Rourke, 19, is a native of Vermont. His the 2015 winner of the Saga Award from DjangoFest Northwest and is a student at Berklee. Loughman leads his own independent rock group, Lowman, and performs with the John Funkhouser Trio and others.
Travels is the Rhythm Future Quartet’s follow-up to their self-titled debut album, which drew on standards. Nine of the 13 tracks are Travels were composed by members of the group.