12 O'Clock Track: Sand, "White Nights"

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It's a sad fact of the musical life of Chicago that many players move away—for romance, work, better opportunities, weather . . . the list goes on. Luckily for most jazz players, a change of scenery doesn't always mean an end to projects that began in the city. Saxophonists Aram Shelton and Greg Ward, for example, remain regular presences around town, maintaining numerous bands with locals. That's also been the case with the drummer Dylan Ryan, who moved to LA a couple of years ago. His terrific postbop band Herculaneum is still at it—in fact they have a gig at the Hideout on March 27.

But yesterday the reality that Ryan doesn't live here anymore sunk in deeper with me thanks to the release of the debut album Sky Bleached (Cuneiform) by his new LA trio, Sand. The group features another ex-Chicagoan, Devin Hoff, on bass and Tim Young, a ubiquitous session musician, on electric guitar. Four of the ten pieces were written by Ryan in collaboration with his bandmates, while he composed five on his own; the tenth piece is a version of Paul Motian's "White Magic." Ryan and Hoff carve out deep, loping, and lean grooves—a bit fusion-kissed but totally unfussy—for Young to extrapolate within, at great length. Ryan uses a variety of time signatures, but the group never draws attention to any technical trickiness; the performances are marked by impressive rhythmic elasticity and melodic generosity, to the point where this sounds like an instrumental rock band more than a jazz trio, not that it matters in the end. Some of the songs bring a heavy punch and distorted crunch, but more often than not the sounds are clean. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is the airy album opener, "White Nights," which you can hear after the jump.

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