KMB Jazz: Ideal Bread & Trio Caveat

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Ideal Bread
The Ideal Bread
KMB Jazz

Trio Caveat
Compliments of the Season
KMB Jazz

According to Eric Devin, founder of Kordova Milk Bar (KMB) Records, it is much harder for a free-jazz group to sell a record than it is for a punk band. Which is why he started KMB Jazz in 2006—to promote avant-jazz projects. The latest pressings, from December 2007, are Ideal Bread's self-titled album and Trio Caveat's Compliments of the Season.

The Ideal Bread is a tribute to the late soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, who mentored Ideal Bread's leader Josh Sinton. Here, Sinton reworks the arrangements on Lacy's 1979 record NY Capers & Quirks and uses unusual instrumentation (his baritone sax and Kirk Knuffke's trumpet replace Lacy's soprano sax) to honor Lacy's compositional genius and his ability to inspire brilliant, probing improv.

On most tracks, the sax and the trumpet play in unison. A careless listener might say that this quartet's interpretations are very loyal to Lacy's compositions. Lacy's songs are constructed, however, to give the musicians freedom in exploring the boundaries of his melodies. In "Capers," for example, Tomas Fujiwara deviates from the script with an Afro-Cuban rhythm.

Ideal Bread follows Lacy's somewhat formulaic style: play the melody several times over, improvise, and then return to the beginning. The quartet's innovation lies in its improv sessions during each song. Sinton and Knuffke respond to each other's exploratory melodies with an innate sense of the other's thought process. Radding and Fujiwara support them with tight, angular rhythms.

The theme of Compliments of the Season is just as distinct as that of The Ideal Bread. Though there are countless volumes of Christmas music in existence, Trio Caveat is one of few groups, if not the only one, that has taken such a minimalist approach to the warmth, unity and happiness that the winter holidays invoke. Notes creep out of Jonathan Moritz's tenor and soprano saxophones purposefully, but at a snail's pace. Bassist James Ilgenfritz and drummer John McLellan are not much faster. Only patient listeners will be able to discern any Christmas motifs in these eight tracks. For the rest of us, we can at least appreciate Moritz's use of silence in "Sleigh Ride" and Ilgenfritz's arduous solo playing in "Baby In The Manger."

The Ideal Bread seems to have more purpose than Compliments of the Season. The former consists entirely of Lacy tunes (see Lacy's Reflections, a 1959 record of only Thelonious Monk compositions); Sinton's group explores the opportunities for innovation within Lacy's songs. The latter record, on the other hand, simply fulfills Trio Caveat's minimalist aesthetic, with a barely-there motif about the winter holidays. The two records seem similar at first, but the patient listener soon finds them to be extremely different in terms of aesthetics, leitmotifs and purpose.

Tracks and Personnel

The Ideal Bread

Tracks: Trickles; Esteem; Capers; Bud's Brother; We Don't; Quirks; Kitty Malone; The Uh Uh Uh.

Personnel: Josh Sinton: baritone saxophone; Kirk Knuffke: trumpet; Reuben Radding: contra-bass; Tomas Fujiwara: batterie (drums).

Compliments of the Season

Tracks: Open Gifts; Sleigh Ride; Boppin' Socks; Blue Christmas; Call Your Father Call Your Mother; Babe in the Manger; Happy Christmas (war is over); Dreidel.

Personnel: Jonathan Moritz: tenor and soprano saxophone; James Ilgenfritz: bass; John McLellan: drums.

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