Seven years running amid a few personnel changes along the way, drummer Lou Grassi’s PoBand conglomerate is most assuredly founded upon richly formulated methodologies. With this effort, legendary modern jazz saxophonist/composer John Tchicai lends his expansive talents to this supercharged quintet. Yet sadly, this recording marks one of the final sessions of the great modern jazz bassist Wilber Morris, who passed away on August 8, 2002.
The title, comPOsed sets the paradigm for this outing. In the past, Grassi and associates worked thru pieces on the fly. Besides some notated structural components, this band generally delves into dynamically oriented improvisational frameworks. Here, Tchicai contributes six compositions.
One of the more notable aspects of this production resides within the group’s seamless melding of traditional New Orleans style jazz fundamentals into playfully organized abstractions. For example, “Daddy No Mana” features Perry Robinson’s hybrid, blues/Dixieland/free jazz work, although the band veers off the straight and narrow throughout. Whereas, Tchicai (bass clarinet) and Robinson render exploratory exchanges atop Grassi’s bubbly tom rolls on the complex arrangement of “Drunk & Happy.” Trombonist Art Baron’s raspy toned phraseology during “Stealing Beauty Pt. 2” establishes a multidimensional tone poem - marked by Grassi’s African based rhythmic patterns and odd-metered changes. The musicians pursue a celebratory vibe, marked by free-form interplay, conventional musings, and a bevy of cleverly enacted diversions. Nonetheless, the Poband have devised a cogently stylistic statement that looms as one of the most important modern jazz records of 2002. (Passionately recommended).