Cadence Magazine review by Gordon Hilton Fick

Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of old Sky (CF 151)
Trombonist, Blaser, is joined by a trio of guitar, bass and drums. Not a common configuration. In addition to this recording, Blaser has recordings as leader on ‘Between the Lines’ and ‘Intakt’. He was also a co-leader on one of Paul Motian’s last recordings called ‘Consort in Motian’ on the Kind Of Blue label. Trombonist led albums have a way of either having quite wide appeal or being for specialists only. I judge this album under review to fit into the latter. For the opening tune, in particular, I am not thrilled with the trombone tone. I am sure that the leader has made this quite intentional. On the other hand, these four musicians invite you to pay close attention to their quiet and reflective environment. I do think that the opening piece goes on too long. Attention fails me. Their point was clearly made in the first eight minutes or so of this piece. Drummer, Sorey, gets my vote in the second piece called ‘Red Hook’ and the bassist, Morgan, has interesting messages to provide. Here, Blaser provides a vastly more interesting sound that reveals his huge chops and the listener is given more to chew on. A substantial and engaging piece of music. The next piece returns to a forlorn setting that wears me out quickly. Then, ‘Mystical Circle’ provides a rather academic and technical start that is then energized by Sorey.  However, it then takes me to a confused place and rebuilds for a time but, alas, offers no real sense of momentum. Maybe I continue to be thrown off by this recording with its stops, pauses and leaps forward to no seeming advantage. The next piece ‘Mandala’ nevertheless invites one to reconsider ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ but then takes one elsewhere. Excellent sound from the folks at Clean Feed. This record is a bit of an enigma to me after several tries. I would say there is considerable grounding for the future here. I sense better next steps will be found with these intriguing musicians.

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