The Rhythm Future Quartet—composed of virtuosos Jason Anick on violin, Olli Soikkeli and Max O’Rourke on guitars, and Greg Loughman on bass—extends beyond its Django Reinhardt roots for a sophomore, but in no way sophomoric, set of mostly original compositions.
With five tunes to his name, Anick boasts the lion’s share of thematic credit. His writing has a distinctive tenderness about it and, like his playing, shines with confidence. Whether evoking fond memories in “Still Winter” and “Amsterdam” or exploring more upbeat romanticism in “Vessela” and “The Keeper,” he moves through every luscious key change like the sun through shifting clouds. In the title track especially, co-written with O’Rourke, he rewards patience with prettiness, but always with an integrity that recalls the hybrid textures of Nigel Kennedy’s collaboration with the Kroke Band. O’Rourke’s fretwork dazzles further in his own “Round Hill,” which to my ears sings of the sea.
Soikkeli pens two tracks of complementary temperament. “For Paulus” develops unforcedly, epitomizing the band’s penchant for letting the music breathe. “Bushwick Stomp,” on the other hand, swings right out of the box, stowing us away aboard a night train to Munich. In both, the composer’s exchanges with Anick are more than worth the risk of being caught. Loughman counters with his own “Iberian Sunrise,” opening the album in utter loveliness. Cool currents of air waft through the guitars, caressing a dancing violin. The precision is immediate and strong, hitting the ear like a nostalgic fragrance would the nose.
Rounding out the set are a trio of French tunes, including the muscular “Je Suis Seul Ce Soir” by Paul Durand, and a fresh take on John Lennon’s “Come Together” for good measure. All of which makes for a colorful palette to which you’ll want to return your listening brush in enjoyment of new hues. The band coheres so organically that one cannot imagine this group or its music being performed any other way. It’s an approach that feels just as ironclad as your enjoyment of it.