Song Premiere: “Big Dig,” by The Still Point
New record by The Still Point written up by Red Line Roots!
(Ken Templeton - March 18, 2022)
At Red Line Roots, we pay attention to community. This whole thing started when Brian decided to lift up some of the artists he admired in Boston by writing about their work. Brian lives in Vermont now, and I live in North Carolina. So, our definition of what RLR is about has shifted a bit over the past few years. We will always love Boston, but we’re also mindful of our new communities and making sure to attend to what’s happening in our respective backyards. This time of year, my backyard is full of songbirds and Brian’s is full of snow.
Anyway, imagine my delight when I received an email about The Still Point’s new record, Full Circle. Hayes Cummings, the leader of this Boston-based band, is from just down the road in Burlington, NC. A twofer! Hayes, in writing to me, said that he “checks both boxes,” for RLR coverage–New England and NC. True, but there is a third box to check: good music and The Still Point has got it.
I really enjoyed listening to the entire record. It’s exploratory and inventive and grooves. But when thinking about which song to premiere, “Big Dig,” jumped out. I just love the tension and release on this track. There’s the strong hook at the beginning, with exceptional drumming from Alex Dillon. The horns from Billy Jewell (trumpet) and Hunter McKay (tenor sax) take center stage for the beginning of the song, before giving way to Hayes Cummings’s guitar, which starts as a kind of chug and then begins a conversation with the horns, reaching a crescendo that just sounds damn fun to play.
The song feels loose and expansive, while the players all remain very tightly together, anchored by Dillon and Max Liebman on bass. This is one of those songs that bears repeated listening, because you don’t end up in the same place as where you started, even though that initial hook does come back around. The ending is just so satisfying too. It leaves you wanting more and you know if you hear the song again, you’re going to hear something new.
Check out “Big Dig” and look out for Full Circle, coming soon!
Play Monk recently featured on WMBR FM
Charlie Kohlhase recently featured our duo record on his show Research and Development!
"You've got to dig to dig it, you dig?" said Thelonious Monk about his music. I wonder if it ever occurred to Monk that, nearly 40 years after his passing, young musicians would still be digging into his idiosyncratic compositions. Another musicians said that in order to be able to play Monk's music you have to understand the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic aspects of it and how they intersect (another composer that can be said of it Makanda Ken McIntyre, although his Music sounds nothing like Monk's). Mastering the form of Monk's compositions, sometimes with their 6 and 7 bar sections is paramount, too.
What Hayes and Alex have been doing is digging even deeper into the rich melodic and rhythmic strata of Monk's music to find intervallic and rhythmic motifs to launch their improvisations. A micro approach to give this classic music fresh wings to fly on.
(Charlie Kohlhase, August 31, 2021)