Friday, June 18, 2010

The Convergence Quartet - Song/Dance (Clean Feed, 2010)

The Convergence Quartet lives up to its name by bringing together aspects of different types of jazz music, and combining them into a cohesive whole. They investigate the coming together or convergence of open ended free improvisation and melodic improvisation as a opportunity to express themselves creatively. The band consists of Alexander Hawkins on piano, Dominic Lash on bass, Harris Eisenstadt on drums and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet. On some of the tracks, the music is abstract and the musicians use the very space and silence around them as an instrument and a way to sculpt and carve their performance. "Baobabs" has a very spacious and quiet opening, featuring spare and mournful cornet. It's impressive that the band is still able to make emotionally expressive music even in such a quiet and Zen-like setting. The music is slow, probing and atmospheric. Haunting sadness is the key to "Albert Ayler (His Life Was Too Short)" which takes a meditative approach to recognizing the life and music of the free jazz icon. Open smears of sound and puckered cornet alternate "plink and squeak" with free shape-shifting improvisation on "Representation 17." The opening track "Second" has a more standard jazz format with medium tempo trumpet improvising over an nimble piano, bass and drum accompaniment. Lash and Eisenstadt even approach funk with a cool bass and drum interlude. "The Pitts" is a beautiful melodic ballad floating over full bodied piano. Bynum adds some very subtle long toned cornet that is very lyrical and enhances the "storytelling" aspect of the song. "Kudala (Long Ago)" completes the album on an upbeat and spritely note with uptempo full band improvisation, featuring cool sounding brass sputtering over strong piano and propulsive drumming. This was an interesting album of patient and thoughtful music. It is clear that the musicians involved have spent much time honing their craft and considering the philosophy of their music. By taking a holistic approach that allows for the organic inclusion of many parts, the band is able to create a satisfying and original statement. Song/Dance -

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