Lou Grassi's Po Band: Infinite POtential (2006)
This is not your standard blow-everyone-against-the-wall style of free improvisation. This is a band with a wide dynamic range and a measured approach. Do not read measured for tentative. These players know their métier and know it well. The first sounds on this disc are barely audible. But gradually the music unfolds, slowly but determinedly. Eventually, instruments step out of the mix for solo interludes, but this is a group music.
If there is a division, it's between the rhythm section (Grassi and Lane) and the front line. Grassi is a master at rising from a whisper to a full-on barrage, directing the group in subtle yet effective ways. Lane is a listener who understands when to charge ahead and when to lock in with Grassi. This has the effect of allowing the front line free rein, providing both direction and support.
But the front-line players take their cues well. "Every Moment Is Another Now is a perfect demonstration. Grassi starts with quiet splashing cymbals, and soon a low growl begins to emerge. It's Taylor playing with a burry mute. Robinson picks up the cue and starts a contrapuntal line, which Lane and then Robertson follow for a five-way linear development throughout the piece.
Grassi has led his PO Band on and off for ten years now, and it's obviously a project that has... uh... infinite potential. And this is as fine a document as the band has ever turned out.
Track Listing: Infinite Potential; Every Moment Is Another Now; Something From Nothing; Laugh Track; Phantasmagoria.
Personnel: Lou Grassi: drums, percussion; Perry Robinson: clarinet, occarina; David Taylor: bass trombone; Herb Robertson: trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn; Adam Lane: bass.
Record Label: CIMP Records
Style: Modern Jazz