Jay Rosen: Songs for Samuel / Michael Bisio: Composance
Songs for Samuel
Drummer Jay Rosen is an imaginative musician and he set for himself what some would consider a monumental task: an homage to his recently deceased father played on drums and percussion. However, Rosen is one of the most accomplished drummers around and his musical acumen, as demonstrated in groups like Trio X and the Cosmosamatics, is second to none.
The set begins with a triumphant drum fanfare, melodic and rhythmic material bouncing from drum to drum. The sections remain dynamic and highly charged rhythmically through the early material. Around "Part 5 , tempos slow and that track is pushed forward by a slow drag beat. It would be foolhardy to read too much into this material but Rosen gives us a clue regarding "Part 6 , a meditation on the last days of his father's life in the hospital. It's all ominous, low rumbling drums, clicking hi-hat, cymbal washes and the sound of Rosen blowing through two organ pipes. All elements are played off each other and are united by Rosen's mastery of polyrhythms. It's an eerie yet effective piece of music. Rosen is among the subtlest of drummers and this disc has a wide dynamic range. One feels Rosen is painting his father's canvas of life using all effective means at his disposal.
Bassist Michael Bisio has been a mainstay of the Seattle jazz scene since the '70s, although he's made forays east in the groups of Joe McPhee and Charles Gayle and is now an NYC resident. For Composance, Bisio assembled a trio of Northwest compatriots with trumpeter Rob Blakeslee and drummer Greg Campbell. Since the trumpet trio format isn't exactly common, Composance comes off as a breath of fresh air.
From the thick rubbery bass line leading into a pressed roll that slams into a puckish trumpet stating the tricky theme, the opener "CRT heralds a dynamic, charging band ready to play. Mingus is a touchstone on a couple of tracks. In addition to the quote from "Haitian Fight Song on the title track, there's an unusual homage to the bassist on "Charles, Too! . Campbell plays gamelan-sounding percussion as Bisio states an arco theme that recalls Mingus' statement to "Meditations . Bisio and Campbell engage in a lengthy duet and Blakeslee doesn't emerge until halfway through the piece's ten minutes. The arrangement of "Come Sunday finds Campbell on French horn and the three essay the theme with a somber resonance. They engage in a 3-way improvisation that builds in intensity with Bisio bowing ever-denser thickets of sound, swelling the piece to an effective climax. Each track has something to offer and Composance stands as a testament to the variety and substance that can be invested in a trio format when the musicians have intelligence and imagination.
Songs for Samuel
Tracks: Songs For Samuel: Parts 1-12.
Personnel: Jay Rosen: drums.
Tracks: 1. CRT; 2. Refused; 3. Charles Too!; 4. Less Than; 5. Yo' Mike Kleimo Here; 6. Composance; 7. Come Sunday; 8. Pretty Boy, Pig Face and the Family God
Personnel: Rob Blakeslee: trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Bisio: bass; Greg Campbell: percussion, French horn