Tag Archives: Steve Adams

Cadence Magazine review by David Dupont

Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Steve Adams’ trio with bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Scott Amendola operates with freewheeling melodic intent. As a composer Adams provides the sparest frameworks in which he and his colleagues operate, and they all make the most of the prompts, springing forth with lyrical invention that may tug at tonality but never loses its grip on emotional urgency. That’s most obvious on “Little Ballad,” a melancholy piece with Adams in the lead on bass flute backed by percussive splashes that accent the stillness and Filiano’s ringing bass commentary that blossoms into a solo declaration. The lyrical cast holds true even when the trio kicks up the tempo, as on the Free Bop romp “Squelch” where the trio swings loosely and joyously. And Amendola is just as tuned into the sense of thematic unity as his bandmates, evident in the way his solo tumbles organically out of the head on “Squeamish.” For his part, Filiano delivers a beauty of a solo, full of folk implications to open “Surface Tension.” Even the wild closer with its ebbing and flowing groove spews melodic bits. Adams, who divides his time on all his horns here, is equally fierce on sopranino during the opening minutes and on strangled, groaning baritone as he drives the session home.
©Cadence Magazine 2010 www.cadencebuilding.com

Alain Drouot: Top 10 and more

Top 10 of 2009
1. Michel Edelin – Kuntu – Rogue Art
2. Vijay Iyer – Historicity – ACT
3. Miroslav Vitous – Remembering Weather Report – ECM
4. Louis Moholo-Moholo/Duets with Marilyn Crispell – Sibanye (We Are One) – Intakt
5. Sophie Agnel – Capsizing Moments – Emanem
6. Darren Johnston – The Edge of the Forest (Clean Feed)
7. David Binney – Third Occasion – Mythology
8. Brian Groder – Groder & Greene – Latham Records
9. Matt Wilson Quartet – That’s Gonna Leave a Mark – Palmetto
10. Rob Mazurek – Sound Is – Delmark
Runners up
11. Alex Cline – Continuation – Cryptogramophone)
12. The Fully Celebrated – Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones – AUM Fidelity
13. Satoko Fujii & Myra Melford – Under the Water – Libra
14. Ben Goldberg/Charlie Hunter/Scott Amendola/Ron Miles – Go Home – BAG
15. Okkyung Lee/Peter Evans/Steve Beresford – Check for Monsters – Emanem
16. Agustí Fernández – Un Llamp Que No S’Acaba Mai – Psi
17. Steve Adams – Surface Tension – Clean Feed
18. Denman Maroney – Udentity – Clean Feed
19. Gypsy Shaeffer – New Album – PeaceTime
20. Josh Berman – Old Idea – Delmark
http://www.jazzhouse.org/diary/2010/01/alain-drouot-top-10-and-more/

Clean Feed on All About Jazz New York “Best of 2009″ list


Best Record Label

CLEAN FEED

Best New Release 2009
Herculaneum – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)

Best New Release 2009 – Honorable Mention 
Denman Maroney Quintet – Udentity (CF 137)
Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Michael Blake/Kresten Osgood – Control This (CF 136)
Paul Dunmall’s Sun Quartet – Ancient and Future Airs (CF 138 )

Renku – In Coimbra (CF 162)
Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148 )
Trespass Trio – “…was there to illuminate the night sky…” (CF 149)

Best Debut Release
Nobuyasu Furuya Trio – Bendowa (CF 159)

Best Original Album Artwork 
Avram Fefer – Ritual (CF 145)

Laurence Donohue Greene “Best of 2009″ list on Jazz House


Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)

Bill Dixon – Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12)
Agustí Fernández – Un Llamp Que No S’Acaba Mai (psi)
Jim Hall/Bill Frisell – Hemispheres (ArtistShare)
Indigo Trio (Nicole Mitchell/Harrison Bankhead/Hamid Drake) – Anaya (Rogue Art)
Mary Halvorson/Reuben Radding/Nate Wooley – Crackleknob (hatOLOGY)
Håkon Kornstad – Dwell Time (Jazzland)
Masada Quintet – Book of Angels, Vol.12: Stolas (feat. Joe Lovano) (Tzadik)
Bobby Previte – Pan Atlantic (Auand)
Miroslav Vitous Group – Remembering Weather Report (with Michel Portal) (ECM)
http://www.jazzhouse.org/diary/2009/12/laurence-donohue-greenes-top-10-of-2009/#more-451

All About Jazz Italy review by Maurizio Comandini

CF 131Steve Adams – Surface Tension (CF 131)
La lunga permanenza in un gruppo di grande spessore come il Rova Saxophone Quartet ha certamente impedito a Steve Adams di svolgere una attività come leader che, alla luce dei risultati conseguiti con questo ottimo Surface Tension, avrebbe potuto certamente produrre numerose e preziose testimonianze che auspichiamo possano comunque arrivare in futuro.
Per l’occasione Adams chiama al suo fianco due eccellenti musicisti della West Coast americana come Ken Filiano e Scott Amendola e li coinvolge completamente, dando loro un ruolo di grande importanza nell’economia di questo trio. L’interplay fra questi tre artisti è di primissimo livello e la musica scorre con grande senso della forma senza mai sembrare ingessata o indulgente.

Filiano in particolare sa utilizzare il suo contrabbasso anche per escursioni con l’archetto e sezioni di pizzicato che ampliano le possibilità timbriche e rafforzano gli intrecci ritmici dell’ensemble. Le doti percussive di Scott Amendola sono ben note e si confermano in pieno in questa occasione dove la sua sensibilità dinamica ha la giusta opportunità per essere sempre in grande evidenza.

Il leader utilizza con grande sapienza tutta la famiglia dei sax passando senza alcun sforzo dal sopranino al baritono e aggiunge la timbrica carica di suggestioni e misteri del flauto basso, uno strumento col quale sa esprimersi in maniera formidabile.

Questa musica sembra navigare in una sorta di aura meditativa ma proattiva allo stesso tempo, sospesa fra l’efficienza occidentale e la saggezza orientale. Non mancano sezioni dove il groove si fa intenso per poi lasciare spazio a misteriosi episodi astratti che sembrano illuminati dalla luce della Luna. O forse è quella di Marte.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=4210

Temporary Fault review by Massimo Ricci

Clean Feed 1
A few words about ten less recent chapters from the ongoing (hopefully for long) saga of Pedro Costa’s label. Other titles will be gathered in a future instalment.

Clean Feed Cherry Picking

FIGHT THE BIG BULL – Dying Will Be Easy (CF 108 )
Under this name acts a reasonably bloodthirsty nonet led by guitarist Matt White, the composer of all the tunes. The instrumentation comprise two trombones (Reggie Pace, Bryan Hooten), clarinet (Adrian Sandi), tenor sax (J.C. Kuhl), trumpet (Bob Miller), percussion (Brian Jones), trap kit (Pinson Chanselle) and bass (Cameron Ralston). Given that the CD lasts slightly in excess of 31 minutes, the level of charged dynamics and overall energies that it transmits is noteworthy. Clearly stated themes get rapidly embittered in distorted fury, vapours of past influences gathered and shaken up into original recipes for a fresh kind of alternative dancing. Orchestrations that hint to big band enthusiasms and New Orleans-tinged business leave room for the instrumentalists to releases copious doses of vociferous rage, yet there’s also space for looking at atmospheres that are more reminiscent of a strip club than a jazz club. The mechanisms of lucidity don’t seem to be always in full control, but the somewhat disorderly conduct held by the ensemble is a plus, liberating the music from the sub-structural obviousness that this brand of projects frequently implies. The nervous sort of gaiety that characterizes substantial chunks of the compositions is exactly what defines their distinctiveness. Play loud and get slapped hard.

PAULO CURADO E O LUGAR DA DESORDEM – The Bird, The Breeze And Mr. Filiano (CF 113)
As the record’s name implies, the presence of double bassist Ken Filiano amidst leader Paulo Curado (alto sax, flute) and Bruno Pedroso (drums) is rather exemplary, classiness and sobriety always at the forefront either as accompanist or soloist, an extreme musicality symbolizing the cornerstone of his style, which is a pleasure to listen at any time. The Portuguese comrades are definitely not lesser musicians, though: this is a typical specimen of trio that might have risked to sound as a mellifluous disaster on CD and instead comes out of the speakers as a splendid kinship, the music walking at brisk paces without stumbling for a moment. Curado is a neat executor on both instruments, playing lines that result perfectly intelligible wherever he decides to go, perennial precision and clever sleights of hand never informed by excessive meticulousness. Pedroso’s wrists allow him excursions in several regions of drumming, including those which border with total freedom, yet he manages to emerge as the driving propitiator of impartially functional rhythmic designs at all times. Played with earnestness and elegance at once, these pieces appear like unprejudiced attempts to avoid that kind of pre-digested organization which gives jazz a glossy patina of unresponsive pointlessness.

JORGE LIMA BARRETO – Zul Zelub (CF 111)
The theory of “unrealized energy”, of which we find a meticulous description on the album’s sleeve notes, is at the basis of these 75 minutes of improvisations by pianist Jorge Lima Barreto. The length of the CD is, in truth, one of its limits but this notwithstanding some of the ideas that the sole protagonist performs are fascinating enough to release an overall sufficiently positive judgement. In “Zul”, which alternates not always lucid free forms to comparatively peaceful dissertations, the instrument is constantly intertwined with the emanations of a shortwave radio; this continuous presence defines the piece both positively and negatively, alternating moments of experimental intrigue to sections where there seems to be a little bit of confusion. The second half “Zelub” is much better, especially as Barreto’s more effective, less redundant playing is accompanied by four parallel recordings of natural and environmental sounds, including beautiful birds and other similarly engrossing presences. At times, for inexplicable reasons, I was reminded of Joachim Kühn in certain electro-acoustic partnerships on CMP. Still, despite a degree of heaviness mainly in the first part of the record, this is undoubtedly sincere music to appraise without acting as overly critical detractors.

TETTERAPADEQU – And The Missing R (CF 120)
A group formed by two Italians (tenor saxophonist Daniele Martini and pianist Giovanni Di Domenico) and a Portuguese rhythm section consisting of Gonçalo Almeida on double bass and João Lobo on drums, the name being an anagram – minus an “r”, hence the title – of a club named De Patter Quartet in The Hague, Holland, where the four conservatory students used to play together after the lessons. Where technical preparation of the musicians and instantaneous (and often ironic) creativity meet depends on the different circumstances that the music presents. Barely sketched ideas, adventurous sensitivity, a few grimaces and fully fledged compositions, the whole under a stylistic banner whose colours are mainly taken from jazz, but also from other kinds of immediate intuition, several moments characterized by intense silences and melancholic touches for good measure. Now tangentially intelligent, now more respectful of traditions, this record shows the artists’ will to do their best to maintain an optimistically untarnished approach to interplay; they sound dedicated, detached and having fun at once. The result is an extremely satisfying album, its moods and inclinations not in need to overwhelm the listener. Remarkable and, at the end of the day, successful in not giving us the chance of an accurate classification.

THE FLATLANDS COLLECTIVE – Maatjes (CF 127)
A Dutch word that means “mates” also defines a typical local delicacy, of which the musicians who play in the CD grew fond during a stay in Amsterdam. The exchange of musical experiences – Chicago versus The Netherlands – is at the basis of this album featuring virtual leader Jorrit Dijkstra (alto sax, lyricon, analog synth), James Falzone (clarinet), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello, analog electronics), Jason Roebke (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums, percussion). The compositions, mostly credited to Boston-resident Dijkstra, are visibly distinguished by a rather synchronized approach, the artists following a basic compositional scheme comprising a number of places for individual expression but always in the name of an orchestral result that often sounds regimented, only at times slightly more audacious. In general, the players do not seem to be looking too hard for alternative routes: once a suggestion is delineated, they develop a few instant propositions without putting excessive quantities of juvenile delinquency in there, wearing an “everything-under-control” mask whatever the proposition may be (among the declared influences, minimalist mavericks Terry Riley and LaMonte Young; still, curb your enthusiasm if you think to find anything even remotely similar to that music). This somewhat scarcely flexible application of colours and codes limits the sparkle factor of the pieces, which remain flawlessly elegant examples of semi-improvised concepts partially subjugated to a collective format, the whole impeccably executed yet unquestionably cold to these ears.

RIDD QUARTET – Fiction Avalanche (CF 121)
Reuben Radding (double bass), Jon Irabagon (sax), Kris Davis (piano), Jeff Davis (drums), RIDD combine different types of situations and moods, ranging from the sober elegance of rarefied tunes where the piano dictates the behavioural rules of a jazz that follows – at least in part – the tradition without sounding démodé (the preferred facet of the group by this writer) to more oblique exemplifications of dissonant freedom, often interesting, at times a little tortuous, in general destined not to remain in the memory (this needs the opening of a discussion panel; how many records of contemporary jazz are in effect “destined to remain in the memory”, if not vaguely? Next time). The players, whose nimbleness is beyond debate, approach the material with the right balance of clever diplomacy and regulated sixth sense, rarely exalting the fuming aspects of improvisation in favour of a controlled attitude which sounds very welcome. Radding and Irabagon complement their reciprocal finesse splendidly, literate contrapuntal parallelisms calling attention also when the tune does not necessarily require it. Jeff Davis is the most discreet figure of the quartet, humility at the service of the collective yet extremely precise and reliable, a teaching for certain drummers who would have better served themselves by becoming wailing guitarists instead of banging our ears off the head. Still, the real pleasures frequently come courtesy of Kris Davis, improvisational intelligence on a par with her abilities as a refined interlocutor, chordal hues and sparkling arpeggios always noticeable at the forefront of the mix even in the less intelligible sections.

STEVE ADAMS TRIO – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Adams is a member of ROVA, in front of which a knowledgeable listener could even think of genuflecting – enough said. In this record he plays sopranino, alto, tenor and baritone plus bass flute, flanked by Ken Filiano on bass and Scott Amendola on drums. I’m usually kind-hearted towards instrumentalists belonging to the same rank of these three men, provided that clichés and formulas are left out of the equation which, we’re happy to report, is exactly what happens here. This is as fresh a jazz as a herbal antiperspirant: the music, entirely written by Adams, literally breathes, whatever the sort of proposition he presents. Inspired improvisations sounding like well-rehearsed charts, clever swinging, intense soliloquies and considerate interplay with just a pinch of disenchantment: everything is executed with congruence, the musicians’ intents perfectly aligned in a punctilious search for different solutions. While Filiano performs according to his customary instrumental stature, alternating dissonant bopping and arco-tinged sensitive shrewdness, and Amendola acts as a clear-headed rhythmic propeller gifted with remarkable clarity of vision, the leader is obviously a master of the game, the relationship with the mechanics of blowing air into tubes fuelled by a refined sense of suggestiveness and proportional technical monstrosity which makes us appreciate the sheer sound of any note that he emits, with a personal preference for the splendidly evocative considerations on the flute in tracks such as the gorgeous “ninth” (thus called by yours truly because the CD contains ten chapters, but the cover and the press release indicate only eight titles). A flawless example of creative interaction in a trio, a veritable clinic for many aspiring leaders who don’t have a clue about where they want to go.

JOHN O’GALLAGHER TRIO – Dirty Hands (CF 132)
The spectacular audio quality of the recording is extremely helpful in highlighting the instrumental adroitness of alto saxophonist O’Gallagher and his comrades, bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Jeff Williams. People who sound like they’ve been playing together forever, recorded in studio during a pause in a series of concerts and clinics in Braga, Portugal in 2007 which made their spiritual and technical fusion complete. It’s great when, while listening to an album, one can literally penetrate the essence of each instrument (which comes naturally easier when the sources are not too numerous). This happens time and again while we “concentrate on the concentration” demonstrated by the artists all over the course of this disc, which alternates mathematic precision, committed ardour and permanent imaginativeness in a noteworthy recipe, the sounds typical of this format in a way separated, clarified and amplified to express a unique mental picture. This perfect intelligibility is what attributes to the whole a positive mark: without sounding by any means conciliatory – quite the contrary, it is full of acute corners and razor-blade sharpness – this music is also capable of touching the soul at least in part, leaving ample room for reflection and air to breathe for the brain, never overwhelmed by what ignorant analysts often define “urgency” and instead is just inability to listen, which in my book determines a loss of the right to be called “musicians”. O’Gallagher, Kamaguchi and Williams are excellent listeners and the record is, accordingly, brilliant.

DARREN JOHNSTON – The Edge Of The Forest (CF 133)
Remarkable compositions and skilled arrangements designed to create the perfect setting for solos played with zest and exhuding joy to perform. This pretty much sums up the near-perfection of this CD, among my overall favourites in this batch, which gives back copious doses of almost physical pleasure spin after spin – a rare characteristic even in technically superior, high-level releases. Trumpeter and composer Johnston, who has worked among others with Fred Frith and Myra Melford, is aided by Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Sheldon Brown (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Devin Hoff (upright bass), Smith Dobson V (drums) and, exclusively in “Foggy”, by accordionist Rob Reich. A response to the pedestrian attitude of those combos based upon the “nonexistent-theme-thrown-away-before-inconclusive-blowouts” modus operandi, the pieces are constructed with architectural extensiveness, a plurality of diverse keys to open the doors of never-invasive, ever-articulate ramifications leading the group into territories explored with Zappa-esque tightness in uncompromising perseverance, at the same time lightening up the connotations of otherwise unsurprising redundancies. Not for a minute we experience that feel of imminent catastrophe which often underscores excessive freedom, destroying the good intentions that a tune might show: the music flows with the head on its shoulders, the players walking surefooted amidst potential turmoil maintaining rationality and brilliance, and ends exactly where it had to, its latent coldness replaced by a formidable musicality which makes us completely forget about the meaning of “lackadaisical”. A disciplined yet spirited album: if you have to pick just a few in this tentet, this is one of them.
http://temporaryfault.blogspot.com/2009/06/clean-feed-cherry-picking.html

Jazz’n’More review by Jürg Solothurnmann

CF 131STEVE ADAMS TRIO – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Note: 4

Drei gerne übersehene starke Top-Kalifornier in der erweiterten Nachfolge der von Sonny Rollins begründeten Triotradition ohne Harmonieinstrument. Das ROVA-Mitglied Steve Adams hat alle acht Themen geschrieben – modale und panmodale, die meistens bruchlos mit den oft kollektiven Improvisationen verwoben sind. Der Titel „Equilibria“ ist Programm: In wechselnden Funktionen agieren die drei Spieler gleichwertig und haben alle ihre Momente, wo sie führen und sogar solo spielen, was den Abwechslungsreichtum steigert. Alle können nicht nur grooven, sondern besitzen auch die Erfahrung und Präzision von Kammermusikern, die mit modernen Ideen jenseits der Chorusimprovisation viel zu beginnen wissen. Filiano spielt mit voluminösem Pizzicato und dialogisiert mit dem Bogen mit der Bassflöte. Adams favorisiert die tiefen Instrumente Bassflöte und mit konturiertem Sound das Baritonsax. Und wenn er dann mit dem Altsax mehr in den Freebop-Bereich eintaucht, glänzt auch der klangsensible, vielseitige Drummer Amendola. Das fetzende Free Jazz-Schlussstück „Cacophony“ (mit Sopranino) unterstreicht nochmals sehr physisch die solistische Kompetenz und natürliche Chemie dieser Miniband.

All About Jazz review by John Sharpe

ken-filiano-by-nuno-martins2Ken Filiano Fourfer: The bird, the breeze and Mr. Filiano; Surface Tension; Fulminate Trio; The Ultimate Frog
Ken Filiano  

Paulo Curado – The bird, the breeze and Mr. Filiano (CF 113)
Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Fulminate Trio – Fulminate Trio (Generate Records)
Jim McAuley – The Ultimate Frog (Drip Audio)

It was Ornette’s Quartet which finally bust open the floodgates, allowing equal freedom of expression for the bass as the frontline. 50 years on and Charlie Haden’s lessons in freewheeling commentary, allied to pulse unhitched from chord changes or bar lines, have now been so thoroughly absorbed as to be part of every bassist’s birthright. Ken Filiano, with his muscular tone and bold arco work, makes full use of that freedom on this quartet of discs.

The Bird, The Breeze and Mr. Filiano constitutes the bassist’s second recording with Portuguese reedman Paulo Curado and they have clearly developed a strong rapport, ably abetted here by drummer Bruno Pedroso. Everyone benefits from a spacious group conception, fashioned over 11 collectively-credited tracks in the 56-minute program, even though some are solos or duets. Given the cohesion of the trio and the beauty of some of the extemporized melodies, such as the gorgeous flute line which caps “Novos Mundos para o João,” it would be easy to believe these were notated compositions. Both individual expression and group interaction flourish at a high level, whether through the language of breath sounds, furtive drum rolls and keypad pattering which congeals into nervous momentum on “Pequenos Duendes” or the way Pedroso responds to Curado’s every twist on the lengthy “Villages (The Vanguard and All)”.

On Surface Tension, recorded in 2000, Filiano plays a prominent role alongside Rova saxophonist Steve Adams’ saxes and bass flute and Scott Amendola’s percussion, whether doubling up on the heads or stepping out with intricate runs. All eight pieces are from Adams’ pen and fall loosely into the ‘freebop’ arena. Adams rings the changes through his choice of axes, where he particularly engages on baritone, being casually funky before turning up the temperature on “The Another Form in Time Voice” and positively burning on the conclusion to the fiery “Cacophony (for Vinny Golia)”. Arco bass filaments intermingle pleasingly with bass flute on “Upper and Lower Partials” and Filiano’s taut a capella intro to the title track is one of the high points of this solid session.

With drummer Michael Evans and guitarist Anders Nilsson, Filiano completes the Fulminate Trio, for the five tracks of their eponymous debut. Carla Bley’s “Floater” forms a languidly dreamy opener with resonant guitar/bass congruencies drifting effectively over shuffling percussion; otherwise Evans and Nilsson originals comprise the remainder of the 55-minute program. A strong collective group aesthetic prevails, resulting in dense soundscapes, through which the ear is drawn to Nilsson’s sometimes rocky, sometimes lyrical guitar lines. “Road Runner/Coyote” is a doomy mélange of scuttling guitar, slashing arco and rumbling percussion while “The Red One” starts in a similar vein, combined with sparingly deployed electronics, before Filiano deconstructs a loping bass riff over which Nilsson spins expansive stories.

Veteran guitarist Jim McAuley’s sparse discography belies his 40-plus years of activity, so the two-disc set of largely improvised duets on The Ultimate Frog is a valuable document. McAuley worked in the folk rock and LA session worlds before settling under the creative music umbrella. While the 2002 session with the late violinist Leroy Jenkins may be one of the main selling points, those with Filiano, guitarist Nels Cline and his percussionist brother Alex are no less rewarding. McAuley’s idiosyncratic blending of free jazz, folk and blues draws open, determinedly non-idiomatic responses from his partners. But though mixing up the pieces by different collaborators keeps things fresh, the relatively constrained sonic palette means this 98-minute project feels best sampled a few tracks at a time.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=32219

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

cf-131Steve Adams Trio – Surface Tension (CF 131)
Steve Adams is best-known as a long-term member of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Rova saxophone quartet. Over the past three decades Rova has become a highly respected institution, courtesy of an impressive range of collaborative projects, from work with the Kronos Quartet and pianist Satoko Fujii to multi-media efforts like “Glass Head.”

Membership in an intensely focused partnership like Rova has obvious benefits, and while Adams’ two decade long tenure with the group has yielded incredible opportunities, it has also limited his solo output. Other than a few duo recordings with contrabassist Ken Filiano and multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, his own discography has been relatively sparse. Surface Tension, then, is a welcome glimpse into Adams’ personal aesthetic.

Adams is joined by Filiano and drummer Scott Amendola on this rare trio recording—a varied studio set that veers from the austere to the coruscating. Like-minded peers in the adventurous West Coast scene, Filiano and Amendola reveal a deep-seated rapport with Adams that lends a conversational air to their interactions. Whether navigating freely improvised or fully notated compositions, their congenial interplay sounds inspired and effortless.

Alternating horns throughout the session, Adams unveils a range of sonorities and timbres culled from a variety of woodwinds, from sopranino saxophone to bass flute. Each instrument is used to excellent effect in contrasting contexts, weaving a diverse and texturally rich mosaic of sound.

His bold baritone saxophone cuts a deep swath through Filiano and Amendola’s pneumatic downbeats on “The Another Form in Time Voice” and “Equilibria,” ratcheting up the energy level with brash, muscular flurries. Filiano exceeds his requisite role as timekeeper and harmonic anchor, plying sinuous arco glissandi on “Upper and Lower Partials,” and unleashing a percolating salvo of ebullient pizzicato on “Squeamish” and “Squelch.” Amendola’s crisp rhythms and steady cymbal accents keep the trio focused, whether navigating the oblique contours of “Equilibria” or shading the atmospheric “Little Ballad” with gossamer washes.

Adams’ introspective side is revealed on the bass flute driven numbers “Upper and Lower Partials,” “Little Ballad” and the spectral title track. Unfurling at a glacial pace, these meditative Asiatic tone poems brim with hushed tones, resonant bass harmonics and scintillating cymbal accents. The album is not limited to this dynamic chiaroscuro however. “Squeamish” is a funky, abstract post-bop vehicle for Adams’ soulful tenor and “Squelch” is a conventional swinger replete with traditional chord changes. Alternating between sopranino and baritone, Adams elicits a squall of dissonant multiphonics and expressive cries on “Cacophony (for Vinny Golia),” ending the album with a churning vortex of blistering energy in tribute to the legendary West Coast scene leader.

Surface Tension is a rarified view into the mind of one of the West Coast’s most admired ensemble members. Considering Adams’ limited discography outside of Rova, makes this session all the more valuable.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=31713