Alto saxophonist and composer Rob Brown moved the New York City in the mid 1980's and slowly began developing an impressive reputation in progressive jazz circles, playing with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Butch Morris and a long stretch in William Parker's extraordinary quartet. Brown's music is a very nice modernizing of the progressive alto saxophone tradition of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean, building a deep, original and thoroughly modern view of jazz. On this album (I guess it's recorded live, but I don't hear any applause) he is joined by Daniel Levin on cello, Satoshi Takeishi on drums and percussion. Brown's pinched and citrus saxophone tone and Levin's sawing cello make for an alluring sound. "Quick Be Nimble" is a medium tempo opener, getting a wide open Ornette-ish feel with the musicians probing and exploring. "Walkabout" has a plucked cello opening around slow percussion with metallic gongs and when the alto enters, it makes for an interesting and mysterious sound. The pace increases when Brown steps up with a deep free-bopping sound, making for intense jazz improvisation with a virile and potent sound featuring deep pulsing cello and metallic percussion. "On a Lark" has the trio improvising freely with bowed cello and rattling percussion. Spontaneously creating music like walking on a high wire, Brown's alto steps out far a piercing solo which has window shattering tartness before returning to the melodic statement. "Stray(horn)" finishes the album with a slowly developing spacious bowed bass. Brown gets nice bluesy feel on his solo, and there is a lonely unaccompanied bowed cello feature. This was a very good album of progressive and exploratory jazz. Listening to this album, it is easy to understand why he is playing so often at the Vision Festival both as a leader and as a sideman. He has a original and exciting conception of jazz and his music makes for compelling listening.
Live at Firehouse 12 - amazon.com
BTW, like planets coming into alignment, Stef and I reviewed the same album on the same day.
Send comments to: Tim