Nat Radleys name began popping up around 2010, as a sideman on the projects of respected New Yorkers like Mark Mommaas, Andrew Rathbun and Alan Ferber. Radleys edgy lines and cryptic guitar atmospheres left you wanting more. More has arrived. The Big Eyes, Radleys recording debut as a leader, is the first full look at an exciting new talent. He writes mysterious tunes in which simple contrasting rhythmic and melodic motifs are juxtaposed to create complex, unresolved enigmas. For several pieces he uses, strategically, the alto saxophone of Loren Stillman and the Fender Rhodes of Pete Rende. These instrumental voices, in a tonal range overlapping the guitar, add depth and detail to the ensemble sound.
There are guitarists out there who seek to burn an impression of their work into ears and minds, and there are others who manage to make an impression simply by being themselves. Nate Radley falls into the second category. His music isn't forceful, but it still manages to make an impact. On Morphoses, Radley shifts between, and occasionally fuses, low-key modern jazz and Americana language(s).
In this 1976 character study by Czech director Frantisek Vlacil, a stout middle-aged physician whose marriage has come apart (Rudolf Hrusinsky) establishes a practice in a small town. Gradually he's drawn into the lives of his patients—a childless couple, a pregnant girl with a stern mother, the son of a duck farmer—and each relationship reveals a bit more about him and the idyllic but insular community. Vlacil is hardly known for his light touch, but the film's austere look and elegiac chamber music, at times Bressonian in their severity, convey the doctor's quest for fulfillment and peace of mind. Hrusinsky, who was blacklisted in Czechoslovakia for his anticommunist stance, ennobles his role by underplaying it.
An unhappily married, 40-year-old woman, Emmie, finds herself thinking about her high school boyfriend and visits her small hometown in Maine to find out where he is in life. Jason is still there working at the local seafood restaurant and is in an unhappy relationship of his own. Emmie's trip home also sparks her depressed brother to re-examine the choices in his life, while Emmie is left to choose between a past love and a current love.