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The Big Takeover Issue #94
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Amanda Gardier - Auteur (Music Inspired by the Films of Wes Anderson) (self-released)

24 January 2024

Saxophonist Amanda Gardier often takes stimulus from visual arts, including films and television shows. So the devotion of her third album to the work of a single director – in this case critical darling Wes Anderson – comes as no surprise. Fortunately for those of us unfamiliar with Anderson’s ouevre, knowledge of the inspirational source isn’t required. For one thing, Gardier’s assembled a crack band to bring her vision to life, including her husband Charlie Ballantine on guitar, Jesse Wittman on bass, and the brilliant Dave King (the Bad Plus, Broken Shadows, Julian Lage’s trio) on drums. More importantly, she’s a dynamic and creative composer, able to fold in influences from samba and reggae to noise rock and psychedelia without ever nudging the needle away from “jazz.” From the tightly arranged but loosely performed “I Wonder If It Remembers Me” (inspired by The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) and the gorgeous chamber/free jazz of “The Blue of Winter” (The Grand Budapest Hotel), to the vibrant, beautifully melodic “Let’s Hope It’s Got a Happy Ending” (inspired by Rushmore) and the lovely waltz “The Incarcerated Artist and His Muse” (The French Dispatch), Gardier and her players never hit a false note, either technically or musically. Whether or not the record strikes a chord with Anderson fans may remain a mystery, but anyone who loves the brilliantly realized nexus of great musicianship with a creative imagination that’s clearly on a roll should hear this.