“Awake!” is the latest EP from West Virginia jazz guitarist/composer Jake Eddy. With musical support from his brother Carter (upright bass), Andrew Meyer (soprano sax), Ben Baker (bass clarinet), Cole Baker (drums) and Jason Crane (auxiliary percussion), this is a four-track suite that embodies the moods and emotions which constitute a large proportion of the human condition.
The opening track “Plea” starts off with light drums and twinkling percussion, as if the protagonist of “Awake!” is in the middle of, or waking up from, slumber. When the melancholic guitar and horns kick in, the music slowly increases in tension (subtly amplified by the bass), evoking a nightmarish sense of uncertainty and fear: a realization that death looms over the protagonist’s life.
The fearful tone of “Plea” evolves into anger and chaos on the next track “Incarnation”. Carter’s dramatic, strumming bass is periodically interrupted by loud barrages of the other instruments, as if the protagonist is undergoing a painful, metaphorical re-birth into, or harsh realization of his/her existence.
On “Presentation”, pain drastically changes into passion, or should I say purpose, as all six musicians present a panoramic, upbeat and more traditional-sounding jazz composition. Easily the most enjoyable track on the EP, one can imagine the protagonist living a fast-paced life to the absolute fullest, utilizing each and every second above ground and…. awake.
This enjoyment, however, is cut short (quite abruptly, which is the sole gripe – a very minor one, mind you – I have with the project, though thematically, it’s clearly intentional) on the final track “Exit” where time has run out on the protagonist’s day or life. Sleep or death has caught up with our hero, and the uncertainty and fear of “Plea”, along with its dark melodies, return.
If you’re a fan of jazz, preferably free and modal jazz (as I am), then you’ll thoroughly enjoy Jake Eddy’s “Awake!” This is a project that warrants multiple listens, thanks to its superbly-performed and arranged musical compositions, combined with its interpretative, existential themes of life, death and one’s place in the overarching universe we all belong to. Forgive the pun in advance, but definitely don’t sleep on this one!
OVERALL RATING: Strong 4 out of 5 stars.