Progressive-jazz fans might immediately be drawn to the busier, sharper angled pieces on guitarist Nir Felder’s Okeh/Sony debut, where Felder gets to show off his amazing chops. But “Golden Age” is more about songs than solos. Felder’s affinity for indie rock and Americana puts him in a camp with Jeremy Udden, the band James Farm, or the Brian Blade Fellowship. His bandmates — pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Nate Smith — are of a similar mind (Penman is in James Farm). So the off-center chords and steady beat of opener “Lights” could make you think of Sonic Youth in a quieter moment. But the album gains heft and texture: the gradual build of “Code,” the slow-moving chords and nervous drum chatter in “Sketch 2,” the undulating riff of “Before the Tsars.” Spoken-word samples add to that chatter on a few tracks, historical context for our current Golden Age. It’s hard to say what they add, but they don’t interfere with Felder’s mesmerizing flow.
Essential “Before the Tsars”