Music, Print, Reviews April 8, 2019

Album Review: Julian Cary – heaven?indeed

by Valerie Vampola

Julian Cary’s debut album heaven?indeed is a demonstration of who he is as an artist: reverent and unapologetically from-the-heart. By transforming the poetry of E. E. Cummings into a vocal jazz record, Cary uses his own musical poetics to compliment the words of the late, celebrated American poet.

Raised in Denver and now an interwoven member of the Northern Colorado music scene, Cary wears many hats. Former bassist for the R&B group Moonglade, current lead vocalist for Archie Funker, and a senior in the University of Northern Colorado’s Jazz Studies Program, Cary did a collaborative musical residency in Thailand last month.

As a busy, hard-working musician, it can be difficult to find time alone with one’s true artistic self; often writing and composing to satisfy the palate of a niche fanbase or perhaps even capturing a broader commercial audience. Yet, an artist seeks to fulfill the need for honest expression. Freed from his normal obligations on heaven?indeed, Cary invites listeners to experience a more intimate view of himself.

Cary is a jazz artist, but he doesn’t allow the idea of what jazz should be interfere with his expression: Here, he neglects traditional song form, adapting the music to fit the form of Cummings’ poems, adding orchestral touches of piano, brushed snare drum and soaring soprano sax to compliment his vocal delivery.

Cary’s intention for true expression stems directly from the philosophies of E.E. Cummings, who was, in Cary’s words: “in all ways defiant of those controlled by fear and those who tried to control him using the guise of normality.”

While you might not play heaven?indeed on repeat during your morning commute, it retains a subtle honesty wrapped in moments of dynamic, tonal beauty. While the pressure to please listeners might influence Cary in other contexts, here, he looks internally and plays the song of his soul.

Catch Julian Cary live in Greeley April 12 for the 2019 Battle Of The Bands final round at The Moxi (and a full set at Brix April 19) with SWERVE. Also check out his support set with Take 6 at the UNC Jazz Festival on April 25th at 4:30pm and 7:30pm.