Empty Cage Quartet: Empty Cage Quartet (2012)
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The sixth album of West Coast Empty Cage Quartet features this unique, hard -riving outfit in its most abstract mode to date. During the last decade, the quartet focused on exploring new ways of integrating diverse influences into an original, creative blendfrom modern forms of jazz improvisation to contemporary experimental practices.
This self-titled, limited edition LP is no different. The seven compositions, all by trumpeter Kris Tiner and reed player Jason Mears, are smart, multilayered and do not decipher easily. The quartet interplay is intimate, sharp and precise as it always been. And the quartet has a distinct, personal voice that transcends its various influences.
All compositions stress the quartert's exceptional dynamic range. The opening "Oblige the Obvious" is anything but obvious. Tiner and Mears attempt to push into different poles, while drummer Paul Kikuchi and bassist Ivan Johnson's rolling rhythmic patterns collide with their flights. "Bubble" continues the same dynamic between Tiner and Mears but in a denser, less rhythmic setting. The lyrical "Peace" sound as a somber prayer, where all members of the quartet explore personal tones that would accommodate that noble wish.
The abstract "Presence that Time Diminishes" and "Joyous Lake" are contemplative, chamber sonic explorations. Spare and reserved interplay evolves thoughtfully, emphasizing the importance of elements of space and silence. Both compositions are an exercise in connecting different, often unrelated and non-linear, colors, sonic utterances and dynamics into one cohesive palette of sounds. Only on the muscular "Taming Power of the Great" and playful "Avoid the Obvious" does the quartet present itself in a more conventional, modern jazz mode.
Creative, multifaceted and inspiring.
Track Listing: Oblige the Oblivious; Bubbler; Peace; Presence that Time Diminishes; Taming Power of the Great; Joyous Lake; Avoid the Obvious.
Personnel: Kris Tiner: trumpet; Jason Mears: clarinet, alto saxophone; Ivan Johnson: contrabass; Paul Kikuchi: drums.
Record Label: Prefecture