If jazz experimentation is your cup of tea, this new album by soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is an album to hear. In fourteen tracks (all but one written or co-written by Bloom) presented as one continuous suite, Bloom and her backing musicians play around with a mixture of sounds that doesn't make much sense to the ear on a first hearing.
Although the opening song, "Dreaming in The Present Tense," does have a retro, European bebop aspect, all similarities end right therewhatever else Bloom and the keyboard player accomplish is pretty much uncharted territory for the usual listener. In fact, it does take a few repeated listenings to attempt to grasp the meaning of the album, so don't make the mistake of dismissing it after one spin. You'll be missing out on an amazing discovery if you do so.
Songs like "Unconscious Forces" and "White Light" are like kaleidoscopes of soundsthere are weird electronic effects, sounds of phones being dialed, and other effects, with Bloom's saxophone serving as a lyrical glue that puts everything together. But then you hear a tune like "Singing in Stripes," which somehow brings back memories of the Round Midnight soundtrack with Dexter Gordon.
The only non-original song on the album is Rodgers and Hammerstein's beautiful "I Have Dreamed," which in this harrowing recording begins as a solo saxophone piece. Bloom is later joined by Mark Dresser, whose bass serves as more of a background than a duet companion. The piano comes in at the end, blending the tune to the reprise of "Singing In Stripes."
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Personnel: Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone & live electronics; Jamie Saft: keyboards and
electronics; Mark Dresser: bass; Bobby Previte: drums and electronic drums.