The New York City Jazz Record review by Wilbur MacKenzie

CF 262Paradoxical Frog – Union (CF 262)
Each member of Paradoxical Frog (pianist Kris Davis, saxist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tyshawn Sorey) is both player and composer and the band’s second album Union has the feel of a composers’ collective, each distinct voice working towards similar goals, albeit with different materials. After the spiky counterpoint of Sorey’s brief opener “An Intermittent Procession”, the trio’s esoteric, understated side comes out, as Laubrock’s “First Strike” could easily lead the listener to suspect they are in for a CD of bowed metal and barely-audible multiphonics. Davis’ “Fear the Fairy Dust”, however, brings plenty of exquisitely sculpted long-form composition and improvisational dynamics. Sorey’s “Figment 2012” unfolds gradually, calling to mind Bartók’s “Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta”. The band’s connection to improvisational and compositional traditions are intricately linked; the work of Jimmy Giuffre’s trio with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow comes to mind often, as does some of Anthony Braxton’s quartet activities in the ‘80s. The band’s sound, however, is very much defined by the individuals’ distinct voices. Davis’ second contributionis the title track, located just past the mid point. This is in some ways one of the more overtly jazz-oriented moments, though the way the melody works gradually from fragmentation towards cohesion is impressive (it’s nice to hear a composition intelligently work its way towards an idea rather than spending the duration working itself away from it). This piece finds its way to some very subtle sonic spaces and the band again affirms their distinct skill at fluctuating between chaos and order. On “Masterisk”, Laubrock continues to provide the more abstract compositional constructs while the final track, “Third Strike, You’re Out”, shows the band twisting around Laubrock’s unusual repetitive idea – a fitting final statement.

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