World Port

'Stories without words'

(World Port Music)

MARK: 85/100


Sometimes, yet not very often, it is possible to refresh music by the utilisation of a new instrument and Paul Michich's band is characterized by his use of the EVI electric horn (invented by Nyle Steiner, ex-trumpetist with the Salt Lake Symphony), which is played like a horn by blowing into it, and fingered a lot like a trumpet. Paul employs hand vibrato both like a horn or a violin, but the sounds resulting are all electronic, therefore it's a hybrid instrument, exploiting the possibilities of a wind instrument and the shapes only a synthesizer may offer. The EVI can consequently imitate the sound of a baroque violin, clarinet, wooden flute or harmonica. There're just another two people currently using that and I believe one day the EVI might even be turned to sound like a didgeridoo!

It is plain that so eclectic an instrument allows to explore several different music territories, and that's why we have to describe the quartet as a world music combo, focusing on improvisation and unique sessions where the reciprocal empathy has a fundamental role to the different instrument entwining.
"Black Earth Islands" is a cradling Reggae song based on soft percussions; it has nice EVI solos and an electric guitar one; besides that the bass is gently skimmed by a guitar stroke till we get to the finalé, rife with pathos. On the contrary, in the long and Celtic "The Green" the EVI is more present but in the way of accompanying rather than soloing; here the percussions are more rhythmed and the acoustic guitar stands out with a solo and several important interventions. Worth citing the central percussion solo too.
Even if "Wood Dance" is an Afro fusion track, it reminds me of Carlos Santana and a few things from Dire Straits' "Communique". Tribal percussions and few drums along with light synthesized keyboards touches and the frame is complete.
Two cover versions follow: the former is "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", originally composed by J.S. Bach; I dare say World Port deliver such a rustic rendering, so that if I hadn't known who wrote it I'd've thought about a Vivaldi aria, since the EVI here sounds like a cheerful violin; furthermore we find another remarkable end, quite penetrating. As to the latter, "Country" by Keith Jarrett, it is nothing but a jazzy romantic interpretation, whereas the atmosphere abruptly changes when the first notes of "RFD" get over the threshold of my ears; this danceable and lively composition, as Texas swing requires, includes a bass solo and then another as memorable as that by skinbeater Rob Messer.
And afterwards "Stacking Stones" follows; this track is the more particular of the set, for it's an Eastern march, becoming a tad melancholic in the anticlimax; fancy a mix between Pat Metheny and Tibetan music; only when the EVI enters the scene it turns to a Celtic song, but later the two styles smoothly blend. A real highlight of this totally instrumental CD!
Psychedelia and Jazz have an incest in the Afro Fusion of "Hand Talk", in which the EVI reminds of a wooden flute very much. The 4-piece is of course an ace during the songwriting phase and that's why only a witty mind could choose a 3/4 drum break to leave a mark on a song not in order to show how geniously intricated it may get to, but to assure himself that the piece is really unique thanks to his touch.
Finally, "Silk", a Spanish, Cuban or Mexican-rooted track in the vein of nuevo Flamenco with an inevitable double solo (acoustic guitar and then castanets), but most of all with AMAZING sounds from the electric horn. If you're a decent dancer and wanna conquer a Latin chick, you know what song to choose.

"Stories without Words" undeniably appeals to sophisticated audiences or simply somebody in search for relax, harmony and superbly played variety at the same time.


Current line-up:
Paul Michich - EVI electric horn
Dan Nicholson - guitar
Scot Sutherland - bass
Mike Pfaff - percussion vibes
Rob Messer - drum set on Country and RFD

7932 Coolidge St., Norwalk, IA 50211 - USA
001 515 9814707
Official site:

-Stories without Words (CD - 2005)