It seems Vancouver’s multi-instrumentalist jazzman Brad Turner can do no wrong. Previous releases and collaborations from him have set the expectations pretty high, yet his work never fails to live up to and even exceed these. Small Wonder is no exception – right from the first notes of “Scuffle,” the listener is treated to dissonant chords and rising intensity that sets up and counters the joyful and triumphant trumpet lines throughout the piece. The album is a multi-layered exploration that, for all the complexity of its pieces, never once stumbles over the line where all this could become a cacophonous mess in less experienced and talented hands.
Despite the lack of vocals, this album’s songs do not lack storytelling. “You Can’t Be Serious” features a slightly melancholy trumpet seeming to converse with itself, perhaps pondering some weighty matter. This is a quartet, however, and Turner’s trumpet does not get all the plum dialogue, which is especially evident on the expansive “70 Mile,” with Bruno Hubert’s piano and André Lachance’s bass getting in on the conversation, in addition to their supporting roles. Drummer Dylan Van der Schyff gets his chance to really shine on the aptly named “Punchy.” The album wraps up with “Mourning Song,” a beautiful and enchanting piece that underlines the truth in the old quip that music is what happens between the notes as the phrases are given room to breathe.