Released in April of this year, Murals is the debut solo album from the Edmonton-born bassist Solon McDade, a veteran of the Canadian music scene, active in both the jazz and folk worlds. (McDade constitutes one third of the JUNO Award-winning band the McDades, along with his sister, Shannon Johnson, and brother, Jeremiah McDade.) Murals also features Jeremiah on tenor saxophone, as well as Donny Kennedy on alto sax, Paul Shrofel on piano, and Rich Irwin on drums, with Solon McDade handling the bass duties. (He is also the sole composer of the album’s nine songs.)
Murals starts with He’s a Problem In The Locker Room, a medium, hard-swinging song, with elements of Monk and mid-60s Miles, and is followed by Buy The Tractor, a driving, minor-key tune that begins with a beautiful trio introduction from both the McDades and Kennedy. (It should also be noted that most of the song titles on Murals are evocative and wryly funny; a welcome surprise in the world of modern instrumental jazz, in which naming conventions tend towards the painfully self-serious.) Off The Bed, Rose, a medium-up minor blues, is a definite highlight, with strong, creative solos from Kennedy, Shrofel, Jeremiah McDade and Irwin, with exceptionally supportive rhythm section playing throughout. Another highlight: the album’s final track, A Shorter Thing, a groovy, Poinciana-esque song on which Solon McDade takes a succinct, lyrical solo. Murals is an accomplished, confident album from a first-class band; highly recommended.