We say: Acoustic world folk-rock fusion from New York.
Brad Hammonds is a New York-based musician and sometimes psychologist who, while once a member of college circuit gigging duo Brazz Tree, prefers these days to work on his own solo projects without the pressures of live performance and touring. Greene Street is a collection of acoustic pieces that hint at oriental and Celtic music with their modal melodies and shifting time signatures. There are no vocals here, just ensemble playing of the highest order. It's tough to pigeon-hole, though, as Greene Street is not really Rock, nor is it folk or jazz—Brad Hammonds himself describes his music as "world folk-rock" and this claim seems fair enough.
There's a wholesome live feel to this recording, and it is easy to picture the musicians sitting around in a circle sparking each other off to flights of improvisation, although the material performed here is clearly painstakingly arranged and tightly rehearsed. Hammonds is a fast-fingered, percussive player but the other featured musicians are equally impressive. Particularly worthy of mention is the lyrical cello playing of Will Martina who performs with Burnt Sugar, but the percussion of Regina Spektor sideman, Mathias Kunzli, and bass of Jason DiMatteo, another Burnt Sugar member, are equally accomplished.
Given its wide range of world music reference points, the music here sounds a touch Middle Eastern on occasion; at other times, it hints at flamenco influences, European folk melodies, and even Led Zeppelin. Although indisputably complex, the tunes are performed with sufficient spontaneity and elan to never sound forced or contrived.
The song titles give something of a clue as what to expect. "Stomp" delivers pretty much what it promises: an energetic, instrumental tour de force that has a vague bluesy feel. "Parisian" hints, somewhat obliquely, at wide boulevards, shrugging waiters and expensive espressos. "Gentle Now" is, as you might imagine, comparatively gentle, with pizzicato cello and expressive solo guitar against a background of softly swaying percussion. Although "The Fly" doesn't sound particularly insect-like it does busily buzz along driven by walloping percussion, and "Further East" is, appropriately, a little more oriental-leaning than most of the other tunes on show here. "Summer Feel", which concludes proceedings, is bright, breezy and quite lovely. It's also surprisingly short: there again, so are some of our summers these days.