Friday, February 05, 2016

Rich Halley 4 - Eleven (Pine Eagle, 2015)

For the past several years saxophonist Rich Halley has reliably released a series of excellent acoustic jazz albums with his quartet consisting of Michael Vlatkovich on trombone, Clyde Reed on bass and Carson Halley on drums. The music is reminiscent of the early Ornette Coleman quartet, with short themes giving way to wide open improvisational fields for the band to explore collectively or individually. “Retroactive” opens the album with a bracing theme and Carson Halley’s powerful drumming pushing Vlatkovich’s solo spot. The elder Halley takes the helm for a spiraling saxophone solo, pushing the tempo faster, before his son takes a deeply percussive solo and eases the music outward. “Radioactive” follows, just as strong, with torrid and ripe saxophone soloing over strong and supple bass. Tight and loud trombone and drums follow, and the music settles into a fine concluding groove. “The Dugite of Strikes” has an urgent tone of bowed bass and harmonized horns before Halley breaks out with a complex saxophone feature that grows in power and majesty. Flighty horns usher in “Glimpses Through the Fog” and they grow faster as Carson Halley’s drum playing reaches John Bonham like intensity and drives his father’s saxophone ever forward. There is a well thought out trombone feature supported by excellent elastic sounding bass, before Halley comes back with some of his freeist saxophone playing on the album before the music suddenly drops into a closing melodic coda. “Adjusting the Throughput” also comes rampaging out of the gate with the band plowing forward, Halley’s fast saxophone solo climbing skyward with a fiery blast, and bass and drums equally fast and powerful full band back and fast out. “Convolution” develops a proud strutting theme, and features some a biting saxophone tone and thick bass, which explore the musical landscape before spitfire trombone and rapid fire drumming develop rhythms that work together well. “The Animas” comes bounding out with strong brass and drums letting Halley’s saxophone loose and he gets a freer sensibility, sounding raw and excoriating in an extended in a very impressive solo. Vlatkovich‘s strong trombone follows with hollow sounding drums making for a cool combination. This is a very good jazz album, playing in a freebop manner that in continuously exciting. It is to Rich Halley’s credit that he has developed a working band that has great empathy for each other but never falls into patterns, always keeping the music fresh and invigorating. Eleven -

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