Blue Cranes

Blue Cranes was formed in Portland, Oregon, in 2004. They are a jazz band with an indie rock sensibility. This is evident in their embrace of rock rhythms, keyboard voicings, and the melodic, songlike themes that Joe Cunningham and Reed Wallsmith often play. The band has listened to music from other Portland artists, including Elliott Smith, Carlos Mejia Godoy of Nicaragua, Blonde Redhead, Sufjan Stevens (Seattle-via-N.Y.C.). composer/keyboardist Wayne Horvitz. The band’s albums are primarily used to showcase the compositions and tandem-saxophone stylings Wallsmith and Cunningham. This reveals not only an indie mindset, but also a wide variety of jazz influences, from Latin to free improvisation. Blue Cranes was born out of the first creative sparks between Ji Tanzer and Wallsmith, two high school students from Portland. However, the band didn’t really exist until Keith Brush joined Wallsmith and drummer Tanzer in 2003. Rebecca Sanborn joined a year later. The independently released Lift Music saw the debut of this quartet version Blue Cranes! Flown Music In 2007. In 2007, the group released their second album, Homing Patterns. The group grew to a quintet when Cunningham (aka Sly Pig) joined the band. Cunningham is a noted tenor saxophonist who was also known for his work with Decemberists. Ila Cantor, guitarist, was also on the program. Blue Cranes would continue to be a quintet consisting of Wallsmith, Cunningham and Sanborn. Observatories Blue Cranes’ third album, Observatories was released in 2010. Wallsmith and Cunningham now share the majority of the group’s writing duties. Wallsmith stated that much of the music on Homing Patterns had been written for a quartet prior to Cunningham joining, and that the new album better incorporated the contrapuntal possibilities that exist in the expanded lineup. The featured guest was Timothy Young, an ex-collaborator with Wayne Horvitz. Also appearing were Paxselin Horns and the Portland Cello Project. Observatories was re-visited in 2011 by the remix project Oversea Orbits. This featured remixes of tracks from the album by local Portland artists, and a few videos. Blue Cranes also released Cantus Firmus, a three-track EP that featured covers of songs by Blonde Redhead and Red House Painters. Blue Cranes signed with Cuneiform in early 2013. Swim was their fourth full-length album. The Decemberists’ Nate Query produced the album, which featured the core quintet and a selection of guest artists. These included Steve Berlin, Los Lobos’ baritone saxophonist, Eyvind Kang and Cooper McBean, Devil Makes Three’s drummer, and a string trio consisting of Anna Fritz, Kyleen King, Patti King, and violist/violinist Kyleen King. Allmusic

Leave a Comment