Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rich Halley 4 - Creating Structure (Pine Eagle Records, 2015)

Saxophonist Rich Halley proves that you don’t need to have yourself ensconced in the bowels of New York City to make your name as a jazz musician. Basing himself in Protland, a cultural hotbed itself, he has released many well received LP’s. This album features Halley on tenor saxophone, Michael Vlatkovich on trombone, Clyde Reed on bass and Carson Halley on drums. “Analog Counterpoint” begins with drums and an understated beat, accentuated with thick bass and probing saxophone. There is a nice open raw saxophone trio setting, in which the feel is akin to an Ornette Coleman trio improvising in space, but there is still a sense of groove and pulse to it. Clattering drums and bowed bass open “Riding the Trade Winds” with appropriate whistle like sounds reminiscent of the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s “little instruments.” Hollow sounding drums develop as Halley’s saxophone comes in with much harder tone. There is a well done section for plucked bass and open saxophone, unmoored in space and time. Finally, a firm groove begins for saxophone and bass supported by stable drum time. Angular Momentum” comes howling out of the gate with everybody just going for it as fast and as hard as they can. Halley’s saxophone wails, Michael Vlatkovich’s trombone punches and slurs deeply and the drums pound mercilessly, and this is a true highlight of the album. There is a sense of painful yearning to the saxophone on “The Shadow of Evening” approaching the idea of a ballad as an open wound. Drums and bass accompany seemingly from a distance, wary of getting to close to the pain. On “Street Rumors” the music comes on as a threat with the horns sounding raw and grumbling ominously, before clearing a path for open space to prevail. A full band choppy improvisation develops, with a generous opening for excellent bass playing with the trombone shadowing and saxophone playing repetitive figures and then turning them into an improvisation like a weaver making cloth. Opening with a trombone solo, “View Through the Eclipse” shows the band again uses deep space to its advantage – Clyde Reed is a monster bassist plumbing the depths of the music – fearless, trolling the basement, and seeking what lurks beneath. The band regroups to pick up the pace with a stronger drum beat which forces the rest of the band to take stock of the situation and move forward. This is a very solid album, walking a tight edge between free and hard bop jazz. Much of this album is a mystery to me and perhaps this is its greatest asset, it never does quite what you expect it to do. Creating Structure -

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