Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jane Ira Bloom - Mental Weather (Outline Records, 2008)

Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom mines abstract territory for the most part on this disc, sneaking and twisting through a labyrinth of melody established by her collaborators Dawn Clement on piano, Mark Helias on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. Everything is played very well, but there is an element of navel gazing to the music with a preponderance of slow tempos. Things pick up with a couple of impressive uptempo performances, like the title track "Mental Weather" where the soprano saxophone pokes and prods through a garden of insistent drums, full rich piano chords and pumping bass. "Electrochemistry" brings out the electronically enhanced saxophone Bloom has experimented with on previous albums and uses it to good effect, creating a fast swirling and whimsical feel for the music. Strong playing from the backing trio, still playing acoustic instruments, makes this a very effective performance. This is a very solid and thoughtful disc, though with it's slow and graceful music making the majority of the disc, it's best for those patient enough to explore its quiet mysteries.

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