Seattle's Origin Records opened 2021 on a hopeful, turning-of-the-page note with Second Wave, by the group Meridian Odyssey. The band comprised five young (twenty-something) Seattle-ites who took advantage of the time on their collective hands, and the low air fares resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, to journey to Alaska, where guitarist Martin Budde's father—a pilot—owns an airplane hangar which served as a recording studio. Where the plane, the hangar's previous occupant, ended up is uncertain. But the saxophone, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard moved in and went at it, putting out a polished, modernistic set of sounds, mostly from the pens of the guys playing them.
Opening with "Interlake," written by the group's drummer, Xavier Lecouturier, Meridian displays an immediacy and energy, a sort of Chick Corea Elektric Band polish; it features Budde's intricate guitar work inside the rhythm section's controlled turmoil, before a shift into an easing off of the intensity into a contemplative sax turn by Santosh Sharma, as the group re-cranks the energy level back up to the top notch. "F Minus" is a Budde composition that shouts collectively then pulls back to let Budde's guitar shimmer on a tune which makes a brash, sometimes agitated statement. "Quarantine Blues," written by Budde and keyboardist Dylan Hayes, opens with Ben Feldman's brief, yearning bass solo, then slips into a smooth, slow-tempo flow, six minutes of relative repose before the quintet goes into some high-heat cooking on Jim Knapp's "Looking Ahead."
"NT," another Budde / Hayes tune, exudes a hopeful glow, while bassist Feldman's "For Antongiulio" explores a melancholy moodscape. The album closes with saxophonist Santosh Sharma's "Second Wave," with guest guitarist Lucas Winter and pianist Gus Carns sitting in. Sharma blows hot, as the rhythm section crafts a cool backdrop, wrapping up a very promising debut, as the plane, presumably, regains its shelter, if only temporarily.