Jacám Manricks: Trigonometry (2010)
This album, like the branch of math where it gets its names, deals with angles and relationships from different sides. Saxophonist/composer Jacám Manricks enjoys creating some rhythmic frictionusing different combinations of instruments and musicians within his groupwhile also treating each piece like a fresh canvas, ready to be turned into high art. His pleasing and pure-toned sound is used to create a hybrid style that owes as much to classical saxophone writing and left-of-center jazz work as it does to straight ahead music.
The title track establishes Manricks as the leaderas his saxophone is front and center while elegantly gliding over the groove in sevenbut up-and-coming drummer Obed Calvaire also gets to flex his musical muscles, creating a rumbling avalanche of a solo over the vamp near the close of the tune. Pianist Gary Versace throws some soulful licks into the introduction of "Cluster Funk," andalong with Calvaire and bassist Joe Martinestablishes a churchy-meets-quirky funk groove in seven. Trumpeter Scott Wendholt is right with the rhythm section in terms of mood and direction but Manricks follows him andwith a snake charmer statement at the top of his soloindicates that he'll be going in another direction.
"Nucleus" begins with some interlocking phrases from various members of the ensemble and a luxuriant blend between the different instrumental voices in the group. Fresh harmonies and a unique writing stylerather than a strong melodic coremove this intriguing piece forward. While Manricks' soloing is absorbing here, the music reaches its emotional peak when Calvaire burns at the end of the track and bursts of sound come shooting out of the horns. Eric Dolphy's "Miss Ann" is the lone cover on this album of, otherwise, original material and Manricks uses the opportunity to work within the piano-less trio format. Calvaire's superb swing drives the song and Manricks' sprinting saxophone work and Martin's rhythmically charged soloing are a treat.
The awkward rhythmic gait of "Sketch" is like an aural representation of a menacing giant lurking around. The lopsided nature of the main rhythmic riff is both unsettling and extremely hip at the same time. Hushed, mournful tones escape from Manricks' saxophone, working over a gentle piano and bass presence, on "Mood Swing." Hypnotic, undulating eighth notes from Versace provide a cushion for Manricks before the piano enters the foreground for a loose solo excursion. An off-kilter, arcing bass riff underscores "Combat" and provides the foundation for Manricks and Versace to do some exploring. "Micro Gravity" begins with a somber, classically-infused saxophone working over a sparse piano part. Calvaire's drums-in-the-distance marching cadence enters and a repetitive bass riff keeps things in line for a while. Versace delivers a Philip Glass-like arpeggiated line for a bit and Manricks returns with some more saxophone soul searching. Superb saxophone work, intellectually stimulating writing and ingeniously dovetailed rhythmic lines are the three sides that form the musical shape on Trigonometry.
Track Listing: Trigonometry; Cluster Funk; Slippery; Nucleus; Miss Ann; Sketch; Mood Swing; Labyrinth; Combat; Micro Gravity.
Personnel: Jacam Manricks: saxophones; Gary Versace: piano; Joe Martin: bass; Obed Calvaire: drums; Alan Ferber: trombone; Scott Wendholt: trumpet.