Though we can surely find our own interpretations of the meaning of the title Shadow of A Soul, the fourth sonically and lyrically fascinating, stylistically eclectic collaborative album by longtime musical soul mates, guitarist/flautist/composer/educator David Bloom and veteran arranger Cliff Colnot, it’s wonderful to have Bloom’s own words to guide this alternately meditative/reflective and joyful/exuberant 15 track journey.
He says, “Over the last 50 years, I have met a few people who had an unusual level of spirituality, imagination, hipness, heart and individuality. Each one radiated an aura that was impossible to ignore. These people had what I have always called a ‘shadow of a soul.’” With the exception of the charming and whimsical, playfully swinging opening number “Mischievous Mark Colby” – an homage to a student of Bloom’s who had died the previous year, highlighted by an adventurous Dave Liebman soprano sax solo - we can only imagine who these incredible people are and were as Bloom and Colnot take us on their extraordinary journey through a wide variety of moods with different hand-selected ensembles.
These range from dynamic jazz combos on the easy swaying minor blues gem “True Bloo” (featuring solos by trombonist Steven Duncan and vibraphonist David Bugher) and the cheerful, sweetly romantic “No Reruns” (featuring pianist Ryan Cohan, flugelhornist Rob Parto and a three piece cello section) to the festive Latin romp paying homage to Eddie Palmieri (“Eddie P”) whose quick energetic thrusts are driven by a four piece horn section and a whopping 14 piece violin section.
Two tracks that also perfectly reflect the rhythmic variety are the brisk, fun-filled horn and string interlude “Samba” and the hypnotic percussive march of the brassy “Ambivalent” contrasted with the haunting, reflective title track (the only tune featuring Bloom on alto flute) and the breathy, soft spoken “Fatal Honey,” which features four flutes – two piccolos, an alto and a bass.
Though Bloom and Colnot have extensive individual resumes, their unique collaborative spirit is rooted in education. In 1977, two years after Bloom opened the still thriving Bloom School of Music in Chicago, Colnot enrolled as a student. They lost touch for a long period, then became friends 11 years later at a Passover Seder where they discovered they shared similar philosophies about music and life. They recorded their first dual album Duende in 2004, and are still a formidable, innovative jazz duo 45 years after they first met.