Obscure Sorrows [2017-18]
full length modern jazz record; 9 tracks
released May 15th, 2018
All tracks composed and arranged by Ryan Carraher
Ryan Carraher- Guitar
Steve Wilkinson- Drums/arranging (track 5, 7)
Greg Toro- Bass
Colin Edgar- Saxophone
Evan Waaraama- Keyboards/Piano
Produced by Ryan Carraher and Keith Asack
Engineered/Mixed/Mastered by Keith Asack at Keep the Edge Studios in Quincy MA
Album Artwork by Tyler Russo
"At this early stage in his career, guitarist Ryan Carraher already had his own style and individual voice as both a performer and an arranger-composer. A graduate of Berklee, he has played a wide variety of music professionally since the age of 13 with artists ranging from Allan Holdsworth and Jimmy Heath to Grand Funk. Based in Massachusetts, Carraher released his debut album Vocturnal in 2016.
Obscure Sorrows is a rather unusual and stimulating set of adventurous music that is inspired by John Koenig’s unique Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows. Koenig in his work made up new words to describe specific types of odd sadnesses that had not been adequately described before. For example, “Lachesis” is the desire to be struck by disaster, “Kuebiko” is a fatigue generated by senseless violence, and “Vemodalen” is the modern malice defined as suffering" the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist!” Carraher named his nine originals on Obscure Sorrows after some of his favorite Koenig words including those three.
Somehow Ryan Carraher, with keyboardist Evan Waaraama, bassist Greg Toro, drummer Steve Wilkinson and tenor-saxophonist Colin Edgar, manages to convey these esoteric emotions. The opener, “Paro” (meaning a gloomy and lonely place), starts quietly, has a mysterious atmosphere even as it builds into a groove, and picks up momentum before becoming an unaccompanied guitar solo. “Daguerreologue” (an imaginary interview with an old photo of oneself) is filled with distorted tones, as if the communication is taking place through time and with static. The complex “Lachesism’ has the ensemble creating an ominous mood that is attenuated through the complex theme and dark solos. “Oleka” (the awareness of how few days of one’s life are significant) is thoughtful and introspective, played at a lower volume. “Kuebiko” which is filled with rockish outbursts and a contrast between fiery moments and desolate stretches, is quite a contrast. “Vemodalen,” which is about frustration, also contrasts explosive stretches with moments of mildly disturbing peace.
“Altschmerz” (a weariness at always having the same old boring issues of life) begins with a purposeful lack of enthusiasm but then picks up steam and gets funky. The guitar and tenor solos are among the strongest and most emotional of the program before keyboardist Waaraama takes the song out. The finale, a two-part “Klexos” (about dwelling on the past and having its meanings open to changes and new interpretations), features free and conversational interplay between flute, keyboards, guitar and an opera singer.
Performed with consistent creativity and top-notch musicianship, the music on Obscure Sorrows will certainly keep listeners guessing. One looks forward to Ryan Carraher’s future inspirations, and more new words from John Koenig."
jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76