Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown: Varmint (2010)
Adasiewicz wrote all the music for this record, except for Andrew Hill's "The Griots." He captures the lilting mood of the melody, explores angularities and then adds his point of view to make for some compelling changes. Forward-thinking Aram Shelton turns up the heat on alto, with phrases that turn the inside out, while Josh Berman swings lithely on cornet, giving the tune a refreshing makeover.
Adasiewicz's originals deftly meld style and genre. On "Hide," bassist Jason Roebke's arco comes in to meet the head set by the ensemble. The body is undefined, the shape constantly altered by the whim of the players. Shelton comes in and turns the approach around with hard bop lines. His tone is brawny yet rich as he ferments ideas with fluid abandon. His lines crisscross with those of Berman in a dizzying amalgam that Berman diffuses into free expression with a flurry of breathy notes before it swings out. It's heavy, it's mainstream and it's pure joy.
The reflective "I Hope She Is Awake" is subtle and elegant. Adasiewicz's tonality is sterling, as is his sense of clarity and movement. The lyricism becomes part of the resources mined by Berman and Shelton. Together they turn in a facile and sophisticated performance.
Adasiewicz has created a beguiling document on Varmint both in the scope of his writing and in the playing of his band Rolldown.
Track Listing: Green Grass; Varmint; Dagger; Hide; I Hope She Is Awake; Punchbag; The Griots.
Personnel: Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Josh Berman: cornet; Aram Shelton: alto saxophone, clarinet; Jason Roebke: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.
Record Label: Cuneiform Records