“Loose Ends” is joy on two levels. Primarily, it is smart, polished music, full of appealing ideas and the space required for their realization by a large ensemble.
With an EP running time of less than a half-hour, it’s easy to take in a single listen, letting the songs work as a unit. “Loose Ends,” about the length of a classic LP side, is a throwback to the “less is more,” focused charms of the album era.
The other level? Fresh as they are, these recordings are decade-old time capsules. It was an era when the Richmond scene was just coming together. These are once and future all-star RVA lineups. World-traveling virtuoso Rex Richardson was still something of a recent arrival. Daniel Clarke was in the early stages of his exemplary career. Brian Jones and JC Kuhl were fresh from the first iteration of Agents of Good Roots. NoBS! Brass, represented by multiple players in the sessions, was still setting up in the audience and on the street. (Come to think of it, the latter hasn’t changed.) Dr. Barnett was plain old “Taylor.”
This is not the first project from Barnett. His highest-visibility work has been with No BS!, but he’s released two albums on his own before, one featuring his “10-tet” at about the same time as these recordings, and the brilliant “Old and New Things” with Trey Pollard (another player in these sessions.)
Maybe it is appropriate that the delay between recording “Loose Ends” and its release is just about as long as it took to release Barnett’s mentor, Doug Richard’s big band masterwork “It’s All in the G.A.M.E.” But Richard’s great album was a magisterial career summation. “Loose Ends” is a delightful echo of another generation’s opening shots.