Released just as the leaves started to turn, Spencer Zahn’s Sunday Painter record has become a reliably bright drifter for a long winter. Gentle, captivating, the collaborative work seeps and sprawls in the kindest of ways, suggesting a certain level of listening leisure; early mornings before the day catches up, that afternoon glow that hits different on a weekend. Zahn is an accomplished artist — a professional touring musician and multi-instrumentalist session player (on the upright bass here) — whose warmth, modesty, and communal spirit facilitates these intuition-driven sessions with friends: Spencer Ludwig (trumpet), Mauro Refosco (percussion), Kenny Wollesen (drums), Andy Highmore (piano/Rhodes/organ), Jacob Bergson (piano/Rhodes), Mike McGarril (soprano saxophone), and Dave Harrington (guitar/electronics). The set feels alive, brimming with a mix of jazzy interplay, ambient softness, and an understated neo-classical command.
Knowing Spencer as the tasteful world-builder that he is, we tapped him for a takeover. His episode links the likes of Chet Baker, Kate Bush, The Durutti Column, and Yasuaki Shimizu’s cult-favorite Mariah group under the study of spatial recording dynamics (with the title nodding to Sun Ra). He explains:
“I have always been fascinated with the way that people record their music. How each song becomes a unique documentation of the artist, their musicality, and the space in which they record. When I was growing up, things like reverb and hearing a room in a recording amazed me; it still does. From the opening track by Hiroshi Yoshimura who creates air around each synthesized note to the live club atmosphere of the Ahmad Jamal Trio playing in a lounge in 1958 while microphones simultaneously record the band and audience casually having a night out, each song on this playlist has an immediate feeling of space.”