Simon Jermyn: Trot A Mouse (2009)
An unusual but satisfying release, Trot A Mouse debuts the diverse ideas of electric bassist/composer, Simon Jermyn. Equally adept on guitar and bass, the Irish native is classically trained and lives in Dublin, Ireland. Travels have taken him to the Berklee College of Music in Boston on scholarship, The Hague, where he earned a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance, and Reykjavik, Iceland, where he lived for a year before releasing this recording.
Jermyn's influences run the gamutrock music (the Canadian indie group Broken Social Scene), electronica (Icelandic sound experimentalist Kippi Kaninus), contemporary classical music (Morton Feldman), and New York's progressive music scene (Tim Berne). All are channeled into compositions that possess a defined aesthetic with improvisational fortitude.
These are carried out by an exciting bandsharp drumming by Sean Carpio, three reed players, (longtime associate Joachim Badenhorst and jazz notables Chris Speed and Loren Stillman, each playing saxophone and clarinet), filled out by Jermyn on electric bass and baritone guitar. A most curious quintet balancing the line between harmony and dissonance.
These tonal variances are heard in the haunting bass/clarinet duo progression of "Conduit" and "Middle Place" where the instruments create an ethereal alien-like canopy. Some of the typical jazz constructs are nullified as the musicians acquiesce to robust compositions and group synergy. Notwithstanding the strong individual performances ("No, No, No" and "Kaboose"), it's quite refreshing to hear ideas that are less focused on chops and more on creativity and group expression.
Gorgeous melodies are paramount in many tunes ("Becomming" and "Flaw") with tone-poem patterns, as Jermyn's inspirations draw upon the harmonies of the Bulgarian Womens Choir. There are oddities that still fit wellthe folksy pop rock tune "Narly" and "Stevie," dedicated to composer Steve Reich. The upbeat title closes the set, Jermyn's reverberating strings leading a bouncy vamp and roiling free solos.
Trot A Mouse is a fine introduction to a promising new voice.
Track Listing: Conduit; No, No, No; Becomming; Otabur; Narly; Middle Place; Kaboose; Flaw; Silven Cathedral; Stevie; Trot A Mouse.
Personnel: Simon Jermyn: electic bass, baritone guitar; Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Loren Stillman: alto saxophone, clarinet; Sean Carpio: drums; Joachim Badenhorst: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet.