Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory OrchestraTinctures in Time (Community Music, Vol. 1)
Good Time Music (Community Music, Vol. 2)
Royal Potato Family
Fearless is a word that’s bandied about a little too easily, and it’s certainly handed out more often than it needs to be in music reviews. But in the case of Millennial Territory Orchestra slide trumpeter/bandleader/composer Steve Bernstein the epithet actually fits. After all, in today’s fragile market he’s just brushed off the making and releasing of four new albums with a wave of his horn.
Those who’ve been lucky enough to catch Bernstein live, say the with Midnight Ramble Band at Levon Helm Studios, or perhaps with a funky smaller combo like Sex Mob at Hudson’s Club Helsinki, know the man is also capable of magic. And let’s add generous to the list of descriptors, because, gosh knows, the man gives freely of his generous talents across the grooves on these two albums—borrowing spirits and sounds of New Orleans, Kansas City, and St. Louis along the way.
Good Time Music, the second of the series, joins the peripatetic brass man with singer Catherine Russell for a set of dirty-tailgate charts, sinuous Mississippi guitar, and relentlessly confident, sexy vocals, especially on Allen Toussaint’s swampy, fiddle-inflected “Yes We Can.” Tinctures in Time, the initial blast, is instrumental, both in its musical nature and its intrinsic value. Let’s call this Americana, rather than jazz. New York sneaks in on the Midwest here, like a mad scientist at a barbecue. “Quart of Relativity” is avant-garde, but so right: the brain to the second disc’s soul.