Return of the Composer Saltman Knowles What’s New in the Local Music Scene, a Few Minutes at a Time

Listen: Saltman Knowles

Get the Flash Player to see the podcast player. Download: "Pain Management"

Standout Track: “Pain Management,” a breakup ballad with sweet piano, impassioned sax solos, and sentimental but thoughtful lyrics. Lori Williams Chisholm’s vocal is a meditation on the psychic stasis that comes with heartbreak. “As I look into myself/I still haven’t changed/Call it pain management,” she croons. “I’m living in a fantasy/With you lying close to me.”

Musical Motivation: Saltman Knowles called its previous album It’s About the Melody, which for the sextet is a mission statement. “A good tune is memorable, and the melody is what you’re going to remember,” says pianist William Knowles. “Without that, the whole thing falls apart.” Bassist Mark Saltman agrees: “So many wonderful writers and players approach tunes as vehicles for something else they’re trying to do, and it just turns out boring,” he says.

Verbal Supplements: “Pain Management” is the disc’s only track with lyrics—Chisholm sings scat on the others. That was a conscious decision, says Saltman, based on an unexpected policy at jazz radio stations across the country. “A lot of them were anti-vocal,” he recalls. “They had this rule that ‘Jazz is instrumental, so we’re not going to play a vocalist unless she’s a really well-known vocalist.’” The group’s stylistic choice got them more airplay, but confused music reviewers less schooled in jazz. “One guy was very complimentary, but didn’t know what scat was, and wrote, ‘She must be singing in another language!’”

Saltman Knowles plays Friday and Saturday, April 3 and4, at HR-57.

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