Adam Rogers: Apparitions (2005)
Though the liner notes, which contain plenty of quotes by Rogers, try to explain in a technical way what's going on in the music, Apparitions is music you can feel. "The Tyranny of Fixed Numbers, the second track, is indeed a very original composition, though you're hit in the gut with guitar and tenor saxophone (Chris Potter) solos. Perhaps it's the melodic tension against the drone effect, or the drums driving the ensemble and urging the soloists on, but this "Tyranny will set you free to emote and not just be intellectually impressed.
Sure, Apparitions has virtuoso fireworks, but it also has the passion and immediacy of Coltrane and the touching eloquence of the classical composers that Rogers sincerely admires. To call "Persephone a ballad would only be describing its function inside the set, not its wide scope and honest beauty. The counterpoint, the harmony, the interlocking rhythms and the careful orchestration makes this jazz quintet sound like a great classical chamber group at moments and all these components add up to make "Persephone a small masterpiece.
"Continuance uses some time-tested bebop-isms in the opening written material but takes a couple of turns in the improvisations that the bebop cops might want to issue a ticket for. Hear this case out I say: "Continuance is a great example of how modernists are fusing (and not just dabbling in) the aesthetics of bebop, free and metric modulation (and who "owns that concept? Elliot Carter? Lightnin' Hopkins? Elvin Jones?) "The Maya swings perhaps with a simpler modus operandi than some of the other pieces and provides a good spot for an excellent bass solo by Scott Colley. "Amophora starts with Ed Simon's piano and Colley setting up a two-part vamp. Adding the guitar and finally tenor saxophone, this composition builds through a harmonic/motivic tug of war with the vamp. Simon solos first, againyes, formidable chops but secondary to musical imperativesbuilding a perfectly paced statement that leads seamlessly into Rogers' guitar solo.
"Apparitions contains no soloing, confident in its identity as a chamber composition for bass, percussion, electric guitar, piano, and tenor saxophone. That confidence is justified, for this composition has a gorgeous, haunting soundtrack feel. My only slight criticism of the record as a whole would be that the beautiful eight minute-plus "A Moment in Time is too long.
For the entire recording these musicians play like a real band, not like some guys thrown together for just another recording session. There are plenty of pyrotechnics on Apparitions, but unlike a lot of Rogers' contemporaries who can only play that card, he seems to want to communicate sincerely and not simply dazzle. This one goes out on a limb, respecting the tradition and providing solid nourishment to the most basic needs for music listeners of all types. All best wishes to Rogers as he continues to blaze this strong trail with multidirectional CDs in the future.
Track Listing: Labyrinth; Tyranny Of Fixed Numbers; Persephone; Continuance; The Maya; Apparitions; Amphora; Moment In Time.
Personnel: Adam Rogers: guitar; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Edward Simon: piano; Scott Colley: double bass; Clarence Penn: drums.