Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Listening Notes 2

Max Johnson, Ingrid Laubrock, Mat Maneri and Tomas Fujiwara - The Prisoner (No Business, 2014) Bassist Max Johnson has been building up quite an impressive resume as both a leader and a sideman for a variety of labels. His second release of this year is a collaborative effort with Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophone, Mat Maneri on viola and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. You might think that this unit could blow up quite a storm, and indeed they do on a few sections of the recording, but most of the music is given over to slow and atmospheric improvisations. The group shows quite a bit of cohesion and self control in the building of their music, and Maneri’s subtle and patient bowing meshes very well with Ingrid Laubrock who is quite comfortable at low volume and long narrow bands of sound. This is an interesting album, definitely worth picking up if you are interested in patient and slowly developing music that envelops you in a sense of unease. It is all the more powerful when the band really lets loose on more feverish improvisational sections, coming as a shock and keeping the listener on their toes throughout the album, developing the sound of surprise and not knowing what might be around the next corner. NoBusiness - The Prisoner

Jason Roebke - High/Red/Center (Delmark, 2014) Jason Roebke is another progressive bassist and composer, based in Chicago, and making the best of that city’s fertile progressive jazz scene. He has a heavy hitting lineup here including Greg Ward on alto saxophone, Keefe Jackson on tenor saxophone, Jason Stein on bass clarinet, Josh Berman on cornet, Jeb Bishop on trombone, Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone and Mike Reed on drums. Leading a little big band here, the obvious comparison is to the great Charles Mingus, and indeed the uptempo performances on this album have their spiritual antecedents in Mingus albums like Ah Um and Blues and Roots. But this is far from any type of emulation, tracks like “Ballin” swing hard, but with an angularity that comes from a seasoned and adroit conception. Looking to challenge his band, the compositions and arrangements are knotty but always logical and allow for both full band playing and individual soloists to be expressive and creative. The secret ingredient is vibraphone player Jason Adasiewicz who adds accents akin to Out to Lunch on some of the more angular tracks and tight support on some of the swinging tracks and ballads like “Shadow.” This is classy and exciting music! High/Red/Center - amazon.com

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