Kermit Driscoll: Reveille (2011)
Reveille marks bassist and educator Kermit Driscoll's freshman solo outing, and features his longtime associate, guitarist Bill Frisell. As a member of Frisell's dynamic trio with drummer Joey Baron, the term cutting-edge took on notorious implications. Similar forward-reaching concepts are explored throughout this multidimensional program. Mildly surprising is the inclusion of Vinnie Colaiuta, though the all-universe pop, jazz and rock session drummer is quite adroit at handling the freer sojourns, where his polyrhythmic assaults and propelling beats distribute a broad rhythmic plane.
The quartet kicks off the festivities with the rangy, fuzoid, funk-tinged "Boomstatz," abetted by Frisell's hard-edged country blues lines and Colaiuta's firm backbeats and blithe gait. Ominously soulful, the musicians exercise an off-center line of attack, serving as the antithesis to familiar territory. Moving forward, the quartet's spunky grooves are contrasted by avant deviations and quirky, theme-building mechanisms.
Ardent Frisell fans should welcome the distortion-laced phrasings, laid out with crunching chop chords, snaky leads and a few upper-register reverse engineering invectives, especially since he's been exploring quitter and gentler persuasions the past several years. With his penchant for merging Americana elements with blues, jazz and contemporary chamber, this recording suggests a homecoming of sorts, namely when he turns up the heat on electric. Moreover, Driscoll and Colaiuta are a particularly strong rhythmic team as they align an authoritative presence with slippery detours and fuel the fire with power-building dynamics.
On "Ire," the soloists pursue unorthodox chord voicings and straddle an avant-gardist muse. At times, Frisell generates remembrances of the late, great British improvising guitarist Derek Bailey; while Driscoll's creaky arco patterns intimate traces of angst. However, the artists synchronize the outside schematics with tangible frameworks and don't let matters proceed to a point of no return.
Pianist Kris Davis stretches out via mesmeric phrasings, animated single note runs and variable cadences during "Hekete." In addition, the quartet pronounces a slightly foreboding vista, yet smoothes it out by segueing into a crisp swing vamp, countered with bluesy overtones. Contrasts abound with "Great Expectations," as the guitarist puts the pedal to the metal amid doomsday chops, atop Driscoll's thunderous lines.
Driscoll's extensive and impressive discography spans the New York Philharmonic; outings with renegade saxophonist, composer John Zorn; and the crème de la crème of progressive-jazz instrumentalistsall translating into a boundless creative forum. Reveille encapsulates his unobstructed music vernacular in prominent fashion, the bassist equalizing austerity with a spirited sense of entertainment, in concert with the musicians' superior technical faculties. Thankfully, Driscoll renders an agenda that resists categorization, and is complemented by the pristinely engineered audio processing that simply adds to the interminable qualities of this first-class venture. A top-five pick for 2011.
Track Listing: Boomstatz; Thank You; For Hearts; Chicken Reel; Ire; Hekete; Great Expectations; Farm Life; Martin Sklar; Reveille.
Personnel: Kermit Driscoll: acoustic and electric bass; Bill Frisell: guitar; Kris Davis: piano, prepared piano; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums, percussion.