Sam Wilson: Wintertides

East-coast guitarist Wilson's trio comes out of her native Halifax but has west-coast roots

Sam Wilson: Wintertides

East-coast guitarist Sam Wilson's trio album Wintertides comes out of her native Halifax, having been recorded there at the Sonic Temple studios, but has roots from our coast all over it. It's a cozy album with an unfinished-wood aesthetic that would feel right at home on any Gulf Island – indeed, Wilson developed some of this music in a Galiano Island artist residence.

The Sam Wilson trio, which will play our jazzfest this summer, features Geordie Hart of Malleus Trio on bass and Jen Yakamovich on drums, both Vancouver musicians (plus Yakamovich being linked also to Nova Scotia through her graduate studies at Dalhousie). Wilson plays both nylon acoustic and steel-strung electric guitars across the album, and Geordie Hart plays bowed and plucked bass.

"light through the bend" opens on nylon with a downtuned string. The track titles are in lowercase, pointing us away from jazz toward an indie auteur’s heartfelt tales – the real version of the thing that Taylor Swift has been trying to copy. There's not much jazz language on this first tune either, beyond just a pinch of bossa, but the trio unites around the melody.

On "sandlines", bass and kick set up the entrance of an electric guitar. The snare click is roomy, bringing you into the space the way the Julian Lage trio's videography tries to do, but more immediate and less fussy. I feel Geordie Hart moving the trio in his way, like he does in Malleus, but Yakamovich is totally different on drums from Malleus' Ben Brown. I end up noticing a downtempo, Nick Drake-style mood where the collection of music would rather soothe you than excite you.

The compositions are minimal, improvised-ish – except for the last track, the title track, expansive beyond the focus on a melody – but nevertheless do get back around to the jazz tradition. "elm tree" is a jazz waltz, "dance of the fungi" has Frisellian muted picking. "watersource" has a bossa moment again, almost self -consciously.

The tunes never really explode, they're all quite settled. No worries: I already have some favourite recent jazz-folk albums like that, and this one resonates with me a lot as well. But what will Wilson and the trio do live – will they show us an extra gear of improvisational fervor? We'll see on the Ocean Artworks stage on Thursday, June 27th at 4:00 PM.

released Apr. 5, 2024 / Buy vinyl, CD, & digital (Bandcamp) / available on streaming