Jon Crowley: At the Edge (2011)
There's a mysteriously haunting and melancholic presence to trumpeter Jon Crowley''s At the Edge. In a way, the elongated melodies, tonal shadings and ensemble colorings seem Impressionistic; there are layers of soundtextural gemstones, displayed via minimalist melodic segments, like a beautiful haiku.
All thirteen of At the Edge's cuts are Crowley originals. His composer's pen lays broad, wide strokes with subtle flair. While the general format is subdued, a relaxed tension permeates the presentation. This is thoughtful and thought-provoking music.
Crowley's tone is highly personal; masculine, yet sensitive in timbre. His improvisational approachin a domain within the lines and spaces of the staffis subtle, more restrained and capable of emotional range. Longer, melismatic lines are his wheelhouse, and there are no pyrotechnics here; it takes instrumental maturity to hold back and not let the ego burst away with technical showmanship. While there's a sense of freedom of expression, Crowley tends to gravitate to tonality and lyricism as opposed to more outside-the-changes playing.
Crowley has amassed an outstanding ensemble with a collective focus. Saxophonist Jeremy Udden flitters faster and brilliantly, as well. In keeping with the elegant restraint here, his solos complement Crowley's nicely. Julian Waterfall Pollack's Fender Rhodesan exquisite production touchscurries about Chick Corea-like, exchanging bursts and fragments with extended ribbons of marvelously slick ideas. Bassist Julian Smith and drummer Ziv Ravitz fall in step, supporting both melodies and solos with fervor.
The shorter segments of the set frame the other longer selections nicely. At the Edge possesses a unique solidity, a consistency of thematic concept; no one cut overtakes another, yet each stands alone, revolving around the others. Never over the edge, Crowley and his group admirably deliver some ambitious compositions with restrained abandon on At the Edge.
Track Listing: In Real Life; Find Me; ...And then one day, it's all over; At the Edge; Remembering the Details; Sadness, Suffering, Hope Triumph; Because You Believe; Progress; Because You Care; Shine; Patience; Fixation; These Four Walls.
Personnel: Jon Crowley: trumpet; Fender Rhodes (7); Jeremy Udden: alto saxophone; Julian Pollack: Fender Rhodes, acoustic piano; Julian Smith: acoustic bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums.