Sunday, February 18, 2018

Abbey Rader - Ritual (ABRAY Productions, 2017)

Master percussionist Abbey Rader is a deeply spiritual man, and this album is aptly maned as it brings in the questing nature of classic new thing jazz of the late sixties and early seventies and combines that sensibility with a thoroughly modern approach to improvised music. Rader is joined by Kyle Motl on bass and Drew Ceccato on tenor saxophone, and they open the album with "Circles Drawn" which has taught and fast bass and percussion, recalling the spirit of loft jazz and similar freedom oriented approaches to music with Ceccato entering with stoic and energizing saxophone lines. He is an exciting player out of the free jazz tradition, who blows with great strength and power, adding squalls of wound and and creating some of the densest music possible in a trio setting. The suppleness of the Rader's drumming and and Motl's bass playing go a long way in securing the success of this musical approach and their collective improvisation is thrilling and eye opening, played with an unflagging intensity and spirit. There is some more space added to the music on "Ritual," with arcs of raw sounding saxophone flying over the subtle rhythmic core of the music. This gives the track a yearning and thoughtful tone, and allows the bass to range widely while maintaining a central gravitational point for the saxophone and drums to rotate around. Ceccato's blistering high pitched tones add further energy to the proceedings, guiding the music into freer space, where the is room for very good bass and percussion solos. His strong saxophone tone melds with ominous bowed bass and lithe percussion from the leader to finish the performance on a high note. Abstract bass and percussion open "Interiority" joined by long slow breaths of air, creating music that is skittish and very free sounding, excitable and easily startled. The music evolves slowly and carefully, with Ceccato developing a very pleasing deep and cohesive tenor saxophone sound, and this depth is a reflection of the band’s overall goal, taking the freedoms inherent in modern jazz and exploring it in a fearless manner. There is a thick and meaty bass feature to kick off "Conjurations" gradually folding in bells and chimes and recalling some classic Art Ensemble of Ensemble of Chicago approaches to improvisation. The saxophone probes cautiously, melding with the bowed bass to produce an exciting drone effect that is quite arresting with Rader stepping back and allowing the space to widen and encompass a bowed bass and saxophone duet that soon becomes a thrilling cauldron of freely improvised sound. "Circles Broken" is the culminating track on the album, with the leader reasserting himself with brisk percussion against acidic bowed bass as Motl bows dark and cavernous lines that are met by gradually entering tenor saxophone. The trio delves into a very exciting collective improvisation that weaves many textural elements into a cohesive whole. This is indicative of the album as a whole, with the music evoking a strong sense of unity among musicians and igniting within them a common interest and each providing mutual support within the group. Ritual - ABRAY Productions Bandcamp

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