David Hodgson: Felt Like Falling EP

4-tracks of chordless saxophone trio recorded DIY in his family home while back from Toronto

David Hodgson: Felt Like Falling EP

Saxophonist David Hodgson's Felt Like Falling is a four track EP of chordless trio, just north of 20 minutes long, recorded DIY-style in his family home during a trip back from his current home base of Toronto. David does this trip as a roughly annual tradition, usually around Christmastime, so I rarely get to hear him. However, I do remember him from when he was a precocious teenage player out of North Vancouver, before he went east to hone his craft.

David has continued to be an enticing young artist ever since, yet this is his first release on his own Bandcamp; and that in and of itself is a fascinating statement, because this recording owns its homemade quality. It makes no claim to being polished, having been engineered by the increasingly in-demand instigator of Gen-Z indie creative music around town, vibraphonist Atley King.

This recording doesn't always sound great. Miles Wong's drums are super-compressed. Dan Howard's bass is slammed too, and its sound is shaped firmly into a narrow range of what you would hear in a recording studio. The saxophone capture sounds pretty good despite all that. But it's okay: this album doesn't claim to be anything other than a raw treatment of an engaging session.

A talented young musician choosing to drop this as his first recording, on his birthday: why do I find it so wonderful? The narrative I make up goes something like this: instead of waiting to win a grant, pulling your hair out over the perfect album, and chasing a Juno – which David may very well do in later years, and there's nothing wrong with that – he decided all of that didn't matter and instead shared something from the heart.

It's three of his own compositions plus Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss". On "Come to Me", the melody sounds kind of like "With a Song in My Heart" as I heard it on that record which might as well be Kind of Blue in the guitar-drenched world of CapU alumni: These Rooms by Tom Harrell and the Jim Hall Trio. David likes to play off of short motifs, which of course makes me think of Sonny Rollins as the main influence, but the other saxophonist I think of when I hear him is Sam Rivers.

The bass is involved in all the tunes, but Dan’s playing stays on the safe side, letting Miles stoke the ensemble. You get a little bit of a stereo feel, but the drums aren't panned out to different places: you just hear the whole kit come from one place behind everybody, Dan's bass squeezed into the middle, and then David perhaps moving around a bit.

Saxophone and drums match each other well across all four tracks. I feel the trio wanting to break free at some point, but they keep it straight ahead. There's no better summation of that than this no-frills version of "Prelude to a Kiss", where David plays closer to the mic than all the other ones – softly with the airy tone. He plays the first part of the melody close to the written notes every time, and in the bridge part he ad-libs a lot more. The bass solo is quite nice.

Even though I've missed David's gigs year after year when he's been coming back to town, I still can confidently tell you that the playing on Felt Like Falling is an accurate reflection of the talent and taste that he's bringing live. It whets my appetite for any studio album that he might be on the way to making, and it gives those of us who heard him very young an I-knew-him-when timestamp at what's still a very young age.

released Apr. 22, 2024 / Buy digital (Bandcamp) / available on streaming