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Album Review: seven conversations
Jeff Oster, Vin Downes and Tom Eaton
Cover image of the album seven conversations by Jeff Oster, Vin Downes and Tom Eaton
seven conversations
Jeff Oster, Vin Downes and Tom Eaton
2024 / Retso Records
47 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
seven conversations is a truly outstanding collaborative album by Jeff Oster (flugelhorn and trumpet), Vin Downes (electric guitar) and Tom Eaton (keyboards and bass). All three musicians are very well-known artists in their own right with solo albums as well as performances on other artists' albums (especially music recorded at Imaginary Road Studio) to their credit. This album is especially impressive because all seven tracks were completely improvised - nothing was planned and none of the music was created before the three artists went into the studio to record. The tracks run from a little more than three minutes to almost eleven and a half, allowing the improvisations to explore and evolve organically and naturally. All seven tracks are on the ambient, relaxing side and are very easy to get pleasantly lost in. With all of the craziness in the world right now, it's such a relief to find music that takes you to calming, peaceful place - even for a short period of time.

seven conversations begins with "hushed." Shimmering keyboard washes create an atmospheric backdrop for the velvety horn, sparkling guitar, and gentle piano/keyboard touches - magical! "a reckoning" leads off with a repeated guitar phrase that is more than a bit melancholy. Ambient keyboard sounds and quiet horn phrases form something of a "call and response" format that feels very natural and flowing as it gradually builds yet never loses its relaxed feeling. "words overheard" has a strong rhythm that keeps it moving forward as the horn explores beautiful musical territory - a favorite. I also really like "a confession." Rather dark and mysterious at the beginning, it brightens and becomes more optimistic as it unfolds, quieting and fading out at the end. "subliminal" feels like a gentle dream - very relaxed and soothing. "her wisdom" floats on a blissful cloud of warm sounds and peaceful musical magic. The closing track, "hours slip by," is by far the longest piece on the album, moving slowly and gracefully for the first few minutes, and then gradually building momentum with various rhythmic and atmospheric elements that give it a mystical, otherworldly feeling.

seven conversations is a fascinating musical journey that reveals something new each time you listen to it. The album is available on CD and downloads from Bandcamp and Amazon, to download and stream from Apple Music/iTunes, and on various streaming platforms including Spotify. Highly recommended!
May 29, 2024
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Contributing artists:
Jeff OsterTom EatonVin Downes