Monday, May 18, 2020

The MacroQuarktet - The Complete Night: Live at the Stone NYC (Out of Your Head Records, 2020)

Trumpeters Herb Robertson and Dave Ballou have collaborated with a who's who of mainstream and avant-garde jazz musicians from the 1980's to today. Deciding that they wanted to play together and stretch out, improvising at length in a small group setting, they met up with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey to form The MacroQuarktet. This double disc set is a complete account of their first live performance from June 30, 2007; disc one is a reissue of the album titled Each Part Whole, originally released on Ruby Flower Records in 2009, while disc two is the second set from the night, released for the first time. The music unfolds in a series of lengthy long-form suites that are time stamped on the discs, though the music flows seamlessly and without interruption. Although the music may seem abstract on the surface, but deeper listening reveals layers of depth. The two trumpet players are capable of a wide range of sounds, textures and abrasiveness, playing together for a powerful punch or soloing individually to produce growing, pecking and hauntingly lyrical passages of music. The bass playing of Drew Gress is equally versatile, particularly when he creates bowed movements that allow the music to develop a different cadence and brings further emotional depth to the performance. As does the drumming of Tom Rainey, particularly the subtle majesty that he brings to his cymbal playing that can add a feeling of nervous energy to the music but also offer a aura of shimmering otherworldliness when combined with the processes mentioned above. The music is complex and challenging, but never unnecessarily so, the camaraderie that the musicians share an their skill at their instruments and the art and science of improvisation ensures that even the knottiest passages are accessible to the attuned listener. The Complete Night: Live at the Stone NYC -

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