Xylyn Hathaway | Air & Darkness

Air & Darkness Takes Flight: Hathaway’s PJCE Records Debut Soars
In the ever-churning landscape of contemporary jazz, a debut album that truly surprises is a rare gem. Enter Air & Darkness the brainchild of bassist and bandleader Xylyn Hathaway, a breath of fresh air on the Portland-based PJCE Records label.
Hathaway’s vision is as audacious as it is alluring. This is a quintet unlike any other: a vibrant core of young, hungry instrumentalists – Quinn Walker on trumpet, James Powers on trombone, Wyck Malloy on tenor sax, and Hathaway’s own acoustic bass – is anchored by the steady hand of a seasoned jazz veteran on drums, George Colligan. The most striking absence? Harmony instruments are nowhere to be found.
This unconventional lineup might raise eyebrows, but Hathaway wields it with a surefooted confidence. The music that emerges is anything but thin. Melodies twist and turn, propelled by the interplay of the horns, each voice distinct yet forming a cohesive whole. Hathaway’s bass lines are not merely supportive; they sing with their own narratives, pushing and pulling the music forward. George Colligan, a master drummer and bandleader, provides a foundation that is both supple and propulsive.
The title Air & Darkness is a fitting metaphor for the music itself. There’s a playfulness, a sense of exploration that hangs in the air, constantly oscillating between light and shadow. One moment, the ensemble explodes in a flurry of virtuosic improvisation, the next, they settle into a fierce groove that makes your body move.
This is not background music. Air & Darkness demands your attention, rewarding patient listening with moments of unexpected beauty and exhilarating bursts of energy. For those seeking a safe, predictable jazz experience, look elsewhere. But for those with adventurous ears and a thirst for the truly original, Air & Darkness is a must-hear. Xylyn Hathaway has not only announced their arrival, they have served notice that they are a bandleader to watch. This PJCE Records debut is a bold statement, a testament to the power of youthful exuberance tempered by wisdom, and a future filled with exciting possibilities.

From the artist:

Air & Darkness is a reference to two things that link all people together: one physical and the other not. Air is something we all share and consume, and our internal beings often contain indistinguishable dialects of darkness, yet ironically, individualism is the prominent philosophy of our modern society.

This album is meant to be an expression of that struggle to feel connected with the external world while creating art, which is usually considered to be an endeavor of the ego: the internal self. We strive for constant awareness. The freeing quality of this music allows all the co-energy-manipulators you hear to externalize their individual instincts, and have some sort of effect on each other and the universe. What is that effect?”


Xylyn Hathaway – bass
George Colligan – drums
Quinn Walker – trumpet
James Powers – trombone
Wyck Malloy – tenor sax

All compositions by Xylyn Hathaway
Recorded by Paris Butler
Mixed by Xylyn Hathaway
Recorded at Blue Butler Studios
Recording date: 11/25/2023
Mastered by Dana White
Executive Producer: Ryan Meagher
Photos by Xylyn Hathaway
Art by Xylyn Hathaway, and Tiny Little Hammers


Xylyn Hathaway Bio by David Barber:

Xylyn Hathaway has become a conduit of vulgar-beauty-jazz music that sinks teeth into the space it fills. They paint canvas into composition and wield an upright bass like bazookas, exploding hearts open peeled backwards into one bouquet of manic laughter from the pit of your chest.

Xylyn is a cherished figure and friend in our jazz community; born on Earth, one stone’s throw west from the palpitating heart of downtown Portland, Oregon.

A forager for chanterelles, they were raised on the farm in Newberg with Grandma. When Grandma died, they lost the old farmhouse, red and white and alive in the decaying cherry walnut orchards. Grandma lives in Noble Pioneer Cemetery now, Xylyn in Northeast Portland.

As a band leader, Xy’s musical visions unfold and sprout behemoth architecture dimly lit, oozing spirits from the gills as it gasps for its first breath beneath thumps quantized in fractals. They propel a soloist or a broken poet off cliffs into Jupiter’s hurricane eye.

They play with cats like George Colligan, like Ron Steen, like anybody making big nasty music to be hurt and healed by in this wet-crow city.

Xylyn Hathaway’s heart and music exude peace and play and oozing spirits, dancing between us, around us, below the violent ocean dismembered by big old stones.

Xylyn Hathaway playing bass