“Where Is Your Wealth?”
(Outside In Music)
With touring on hold for the foreseeable future, Cowboys & Frenchman’s latest release, Our Highway (Outside in Music), seems almost nostalgic. The album was conceived of before the COVID lockdown, a project documenting in music and video the travels of the New York-based quintet as they traversed the country. Saxophonist Ethan Helm had come up with the theme as a way to stitch together the disparate cultures and attitudes that make up the nation, as expressed in song. Certainly, the group’s rambles had exposed them to both divisions and commonalities across the U.S., the former ever widening during a time of intense political conflagration. Helm took it as his mission to remind Americans of the beautiful, complex land they inhabit, musically chronicling the hustle of the big city and the serenity of less urban locales. The meditative “Where Is Your Wealth?” begins with pianist Addison Frei, bassist Ethan O’Reilly and drummer Matt Honor’s moody rhythmic intro. Helm and fellow saxophonist Owen Broder entwine in melancholy unison lines, and the tune’s title would indicate that it’s questioning priorities of either (or both) a material and spiritual nature. The music was recorded live at SubCulture in New York City, and the audience’s applause at song’s end may leave you wistful for a night out at a jazz club.