Daily Archives: January 11, 2010

Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
Samuel Blaser, His Trombone, His Quartet
Samuel Blaser is not somebody I am very familiar with. He plays an impeccably solid balladic trombone, at least on his Pieces of Old Sky CD (Clean Feed). He is well served by his quartet, which includes Todd Neufeld on electric guitar, Thomas Morgan on contrabass and Tyshan Sorey on drums. We took a look at the latter’s Koan in the August 19, 2009 posting of my Gapplegate Music Blog at http://www.gapplegate.com/musicalblog.htm. That CD has Sorey, Neufeld and Morgan minus Blaser.

Like Koan, Pieces of Sky has meditative moments and a kind of sprawling free baladic style that owes something to Charlie Haden and Paul Motian’s earlier work, though not in any direct sense. Blaser’s trombone builds expressive musical sequences that are a pleasure to hear and the trio gives a subtle, nuanced accompaniment.

It’s not all balladic though. “Red Hook,” for example gets a head of steam going and Todd Neufeld sounds terrific combining unusual chording and impassioned single lines.

This is a record that deserves your attentive ear. Blaser genuinely contends as a trombonist deserving recognition and the trio has something good to say musically. Recommended.

Jazz Review review by Glenn Astarita

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernardo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 160)
Portugal-based Clean Feed Records asked New York based accordionist Will Holshouser and his trio to record with revered Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti for the former’s third release for this label.  And as the marketing material implies, the program offers a cinematic type aura for the mind’s ever discerning eye.  Essentially, Holshouser and his superb band pronounce a seamless integration of Americana, jazz and European folk, among other facets that uncannily fuse edgy improvisation with endearing soundscapes.

It’s a harmonically attractive engagement from start to finish.  Trumpet great Ron Horton morphs a little trad jazz into certain parts as the band spawns a prismatic genre-hopping jaunt that integrates jazz music’s legacy with ultra-modernism and rhythmically charged storylines.  On “Dance Of The Dead,” Holshouser executes an airy, yet pumping ostinato via a cheery theme building approach, offset by free-form type intervals and notions of a sun-drenched, Mediterranean beachfront.  Regardless of tempo or intent, the unit abides by a festive approach, complete with the artists’ synergistic improvisation exercises and odd-metered exploits.

The band swings, and elicits lucid imagery while using space as a vantage point.  And they render a sober muse, sparked by David Phillips’ edgy arco-bass lines during “The Oldest Boat,” which is a piece that offers contrapuntal statements in alliance with a sweet-toned melody line.  Moreover, Sassetti’s semi-classical phrasings offer a striking contrast to Holshouser and Horton’s pungent unison choruses.  But they shift the tide on “Irreverence,” as the musicians delve into call and response episodes, underscored by a sense of urgency.  Simply stated, Holshouser strikes a translucent balance, incorporating progressive jazz and numerous modal concepts, whereas the entertainment factor rides high throughout this gem of a release.