Daily Archives: February 28, 2011

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

CHARLES RUMBACK – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Drummer Charles Rumback’s music is informed by a mild detachment that over the 49 minutes of this CD translates into a kind of gently impassive mood. This makes me picture an extremely controlled person who would not react badly even if someone came and hammered his big toe. The quartet, which features bassist Jason Ajemian and saxophonists Joshua Sclar (tenor) and Greg Ward (alto), moves elegantly and effortlessly, a sluggishly meditative observation of the outside world from an attic’s window. The parallel reeds leave lots of spaces to drums and bass, not only to sustain and dictate the pace but also for having a go in the thematic propositions. Slow swing or sparse pulse belong to the main rules’ list, the musicians looking both pensive and totally unflustered. It’s a bit of a mystery. I detect a lack of significant action: no bloodshed, no trace of sufferance whatsoever. Still, one can’t really say that the record is not agreeable. The decisive factor might reside in the group’s ability in maintaining a cool atmosphere, a late-night reflection deprived of several of the commonplaces typically coupled with this sort of pensiveness. All things considered, this is nothing but an unspectacularly polite jazz album.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

JASON STEIN’S LOCKSMITH ISIDORE – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)Incontrovertibly struck by Eric Dolphy’s melodic jumpiness, bass clarinettist Jason Stein doesn’t wish that influence to take complete possess of his artistry. Having chosen a difficult tool for being remembered – in order to tackle a greater number of creative challenges, he says – Stein works in the alley where memory and newness fight, producing a kind of cunningly disjointed linear matter that sounds both antagonistic and lucid. In Three Less Than Between he’s flanked by equally clever companions, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride; the resulting hour of interplay exudes vibrancy and authority. Three personalities of equal weight share a collective profit; the most prominent constituent – the leader’s incessant search for different ways of saying something meaningful via a scarcely diffused reed instrument – does not detract from the feel of utter functionality elicited by Roebke’s inspired experimentations and Pride’s appropriate rhythmic dislocations. Needless to say, in such a milieu there’s practically no room for melancholy or fond reminiscence: the trio looks constantly forward, assuming that angular counterpoints and opinionated witticism do best in a world where men who sweat with eyes closed pretending to be connected with superior entities hide a shortage of inventiveness behind the façades of those invocations. Better staying concrete and bright, a lesson that Locksmith Isidore have learnt without flinching and, for our good luck, keep applying.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

Scott Fields / Matthias Schubert – Minaret Minuets (CF 213)
There is a great deal of space for electric guitarist Scott Fields and tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert to fill on this recent duo outing. Clean Feed offers this description on their site: “In the Minaret Minuets system there are two separate but equal branches: the electric guitar and the tenor saxophone. Composer slash instrumentalists — those roles smear — Scott Fields and Matthias Schubert find myriad methods to blend and contrast, to appear to be at one moment a larger ensemble and then to sound as just one.” I do not think I could have composed a better summation of the music within — the tracks feel organically grown and composed by the spontaneous reactions between the musicians, running the gamut from tiny sounds produced by the acoustics surrounding the instruments to playing at their extremes. Without the grounding of bass or percussion and sans any traditional song structure, all emphasis is shifted to the musician’s interplay and sonic atmosphere. For example, there is a passage about halfway into the extended “Will’s Billy Beer” where the guitar melody skitters over light saxophonic flatulence. So intimate, barely making a sound, the woodwind’s breathiness provides just enough subtle support for the delicate melody. Soon, everything from key clicks to short snippets of melody from the sax begin interacting with string scratches and muted pickings. It’s the textures of sound bouncing off each other that make such sparse moments so effective. Their approach seems to capture emotions and subconscious thoughts more than overt statements. But all is not calm, while there are great expanses of ruminative rambling, there are also moments of rambunctious raucousness. The 7-minute “Multi Trill” begins exhilaratingly – all skronk und drang – but eventually settles into a more lyrical flow. “Santa on a Segway” has moments of sweetness and synergy where the rhythms and tones between the two players meld delightfully. This is a long recording – clocking in around the 75 minutes mark and while it takes some determination to sit through the whole event, it takes its time to unfold and contains many interesting passages that make it worth the listen. At any one point the guitar may be laying down a rhythmic single note figure and then drop in some chords while the sax bounces melodic figured off the morphing structures, then the roles may shift or transform into other shapes and sounds. This is a conversation that never ends – it’s one held in music and while there may be lulls and heated moments, there is no time when the ideas dry up.