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The New Cool: The sky's the limit for Cloud Six

Photo by Carisa Lolmaugh
Turn to the right! Portland's Cloud Six hits The New Cool this week.

Lifelong love for local musicians has always meant expanding one's definition of "Northwest," and I'm happy to push the boundaries of our scene to Portland to call Cloud Six our neighbors. With their self-titled debut release out last fall, the muscular horn-driven sextet shows that the Rose City's musical reputation holds strong.

Built from the ashes of bassist Robert Castillo's group, The Sextet (now re-formed in Kansas City), Cloud Six describe their sound alternately as "groove jazz" or "bebop funk." Giving the album a full listen reveals wide-ranging diversity, but the band retains their own sound throughout.

The lineup of Antonio Uribe on trumpet or flugelhorn, James Powers on trombone and Morgan Quinn at the alto saxophone creates a brassy ensemble sound that alternately evokes modern New Orleans groups like Galactic or the progressive modern jazz of trombonist Naomi Moon Siegel.

The rhythm section is a tight unit with Paul Paresa on either electric or acoustic keys, Jamie Campbell on electric bass and Dave Kelsay behind the drums. Depending on how these three combine their sounds often directs the character of the song.

Acoustic piano songs range from the Basin Street funk of "Theme Room" to the agressive post-bop of "Not a Significant Source of Jazz" and a pair of dramatic ballads. Electric keys drive the punky-electronica-funk of "Conceptual Physics," bounce along to the vaguely Latin rhythms of "Stubborn and Selfish," and set a minimalist hip-hop foundation on "Midnight Message," which you'll hear on The New Cool this week.

The Cloud Six horns all solo with style, but the overall impression is fueled by their ensemble playing. The songwriting is also strong, each tune has something to catch your ear. This is smart and fun modern music, updated by young men with impressive jazz roots and passion for a wide range of styles.

Live shows for Cloud Six have earned enthusiastic reviews, and surely it won't be long before they make it up to perform for New Cool fans in the Seattle area. Until then, check out the new album on the show Saturday afternoon, and enjoy a taste of this acoustic alternate take of "Stubborn and Selfish."

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.

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