Samuel Blaser Quartet: Pieces of Old Sky (2009)
The title piece sounds like an extension of the sessions of Koan. This 17-minute opus has the same spiritual quality, where open-ended, ethereal improvisation with nuanced and fragmented abstraction has an intense power and magical beauty. The spare and introspective interplay sounds thoughtful but at the same time has a haunting, emotional intimacy. Two short selections, "Choral I" and "Choral II," that punctuate the more energetic pieces, continue in the same vein, as afterthoughts of the title piece.
Other pieces feature evolutionary progressions of the compositional innovations of Charles Mingusand sometimes Thelonious Monk, especially on the playful "Red Hook," with Morgan's fat- sounding bass, in the way that all the players bounce back and forth pieces of the theme as they push each other forward. "Mandala" is a remarkable tour de force of Blaser's abilities as a leader and soloist. He is a master instrumentalist who has an idiosyncratic voice, assured and strong, aware of the tradition of his instrument but determined to advance with his own sound, with great finesse and rich, nuanced phrasing, an impeccable ear for harmony, and tons of imagination.
This quartet has created its own fascinating sonic universe on their first recording as a quartet; an admirable achievement.
Track Listing: Pieces of Old Sky; Red Hook; Choral I; Mystical Circle; Mandala; Speed Game; Choral II.
Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone; Todd Neufeld: guitar; Thomas Morgan: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.
Record Label: Clean Feed Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde