Way North formed in 2014 to pursue a common interest in mixing jazz and improvisation with folk, blues and world music. Trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy and bassist Michael Herring are Canadian. Saxophonist Petr Cancura was born in Czechoslavakia and moved to Canada when he was 10. The drummer, Richie Barshay, is American. New Dreams, Old Stories is the quartet’s third album followng Kings County (2015) and Fearless And Kind (2018).
All the numbers are written by band members. Play opens the album – a breezy, melodic piece bringing Snorre Kirk’s music to mind. I’m Here To Stay is a blues with a rock touch. It’s followed by the title track with traces of a Western film theme and wordless vocals taking over the melody midway. Then the boppish Château Gonflable with intricate bass and trumpet soloing is followed by Barshay’s arrangement of the Venezuelan song Pajarillo Verde. The pace slows with the poignant, If Charlie Haden Couldn’t Write A Song To Bring World Peace, What Hope Is There For Me?
The cheerful Dr Good features more vocals in four-part harmony and toe-tapping bass with pulsing percussion. Lonely Hearts has dramatic duetting and expressive solos from saxophone and trumpet. New Way Through is a catchy melody with eloquent trumpet and tenor saxophone improvisation. More singalong vocals feature in Come Over To Our House with words of welcome strangely combining with wistful melody. Dig is a smart rearrangement of Jackie McLean’s bebop standard (some say it was Miles Davis’s). And lastly, the almost hymnal When You Say Goodnight To Me has warm trumpet, soulful saxophone, superb bass soloing and sympathetic drumming. It’s a heart-touching end to the album.
These are accomplished musicians who come across as genuinely nice people. They say they want to promote a positive message through their music and they certainly succeed in doing that here.
Play; I’m Here to Stay; New Dreams, Old Stories; Château Gonflable; Pajarillo Verde; If Charlie Haden Couldn’t Write A Song To Bring World Peace, What Hope Is There For Me?; Dr Good; Lonely Hearts; New Way Through; Come Over to Our House; Dig; When You Say Goodnight to Me (59.05)
Rebecca Hennessy (t, v); Petr Cancura (ts, v); Michael Herring (b, v); Richie Barshay (d, v). Canada, 2022.