Jason Rigby: The Sage (2009)
The front line and rhythm section seem to be at cross-purposes on "Magenta": Rigby and Russ Johnsonare in a shambling sort of unison, building not quite an echo as they play the establishing figure, while Gerald Cleaver and Cameron Brown are jumping on the floor and throwing the furniture around the room. The melody gets another level of texture and resonance when Mike Holober adds Fender Rhodes to the mix. It all seems counterproductive on its face, but "Magenta" is like one of those computer-generated pictures where the only way to see the actual picture is to find the right angle and squint. Cleaver and Brown's cacophony is a cleverly-camouflaged foundation for Rigby, Johnson and Holober to throw splashes of color against the wall, and the end result is both startling and satisfying.
A sense of anarchy can be found almost everywhere on The Sage, even on the thoughtful neo-ballad, "Shift of Color." While this may be a shift in direction from "Magenta" and the super-fast post-bop bomber "Crux," it's not an actual shift in color. There is a marvelous sense of immediacy on every track, as if Rigby detailed the grooves five minutes before the session and otherwise left everything to chance. "Tone Poem" is just that, with Rigby and Holober harmonizing and then creating a dizzying dialogue with Brown, while the hypnotic "Slip" swirls and slides as Holober lays down explosions of Rhodes that would make Herbie Hancocknod in approval.
Much of the anarchy comes from Cleaver, who is in his own private Idaho for most of the session; other than some nearly-straight timekeeping on the kinetic closer "Jealous Moon," Cleaver goes his own way throughout the date. He cuts a sizable swath on "Color," even on brushes, and his in-the-clear opening to the title track towers so high, Johnson's short solo figures make it seem like he doesn't want to interrupt. Johnson's overall tone dovetails perfectly with Rigby all the way through; Johnson keeps it open and anchored, while Rigby flirts with the same stratospheric heights Wayne Shorter explored with Miles.
The Sage gives purists something new to rail about: Not only does Jason Rigby revive music that presaged the recording Miles Haters love to hate, but Rigby and his partners do the job so extraordinarily well.
Track Listing: Magenta; Crux; Shift of Color; The Sage; Tone Poem; Slip; The Archer; Jealous Moon.
Personnel: Jason Rigby: tenor sax, soprano sax, flute; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Mike Holober: Fender Rhodes; Cameron Brown: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent
Style: Modern Jazz