Maryland, Virginia and the Washington DC area have been melting pots for progressive rock bands over the years, yet every so often a modern jazz unit such as the Baltimore, MD based quartet who call themselves “Krill” emerge and people generally take notice! With this new release we hear a band who merge extremely engaging and somewhat unique and altogether memorable compositions with intricate and finely honed dialogue of an improvisational nature. Bassist F. Vattel Cherry is perhaps the better known of the bunch, mainly from his work with saxophonists Charles Gayle, David Murray, John Tchicai and pianist Cecil Taylor among other heavyweights of this often enterprising genre. Here, Mr. Cherry and drummer Will Redman provide the heartbeat while serving as the axis for this extremely thoughtful and often invigorating set featuring the twin saxophone attack of John Dierker and Evan Rapport.
The band lulls you into a slow blues groove during the opener, titled “All Systems Go” as Rapport and Dierker trade wistful lines, then converge and turn up the heat amid sudden spurts of boisterous unison choruses. Here and throughout, Cherry steers the band through various motifs and time signatures whether performing arco or plucking some fairly mean and at times ominous notes while Redman adds crisp rhythms, nuance and timber. Basically, Redman is an impeccable timekeeper and provides a mini clinic on the art of modern jazz drumming! At times, the band intermingles sonorous melodies with terse interludes of reckless abandon yet the compositions for the most part, are structured and articulately executed. On “Dust” the band exhibits their extensive range and shrewd utilization of space via a whirlwind of cunning motifs, shifting patterns and free-style dialogue which is heightened by Rapport’s raspy-throated soprano sax work and Dierker’s corpulent, full-bodied blowing on tenor sax. The musicians implement breezy and lightly swinging vibes on “To A People Yet Unborn” complete with cerebral interplay and raw power along with counterbalancing themes as the band supplements their often complex frameworks with an overall air of refinement and subtle elegance. Quirky rhythms, relaxed swing motifs and penetrating explorations comprise, “Grateful Fred” while the multi-reedmen continue their combined sonic assaults on “The Count”.
Folks, this is exciting stuff! Krill achieves that often-elusive blend of loosely based, yet meaningful improv and themes integrated into well organized compositions that come at you from disparate angles. Let’s hope this newly formed band sticks around for awhile as these lads have seemingly found some sort of archetypal niche that is clearly their own! Highly recommended!
* * * * ½ (out of * * * * *)
Evan Rapport; Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute, Humanatone & Recorders: John Dierker; Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet & Bass Clarinet: F. Vattel Cherry; Double Bass: Will Redman; Drums