Kyle Brenders Quartet: Offset (2012)
A former student of visionary composer Anthony Braxton, Canadian multi-instrumentalist Kyle Brenders subtly expands upon the idiomatic language of his former Wesleyan professor on Offset, the second album by his self-titled Quartet, following 2010's Karst. In addition to numerous other projects, Brenders engages his interest in the oeuvre of iconic soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy as a member of The Rent, a Lacy repertory band led by fellow Canadian trombonist Scott Thompson. Although influenced by Lacy's idiosyncratic sensibility and Braxton's esoteric methodologies, Brenders' aesthetic temperament embodies a far more straightforward, accessible approach, yielding a truly individualistic style.
Based out of Toronto, Brenders' formidable piano-less quartet features trombonist Steve Ward, bassist Tomas Bouda and drummer Mark Segger. Their impeccable timing and congenial interplay is immediately apparent from the first notes of the dynamic opener, "Sciatica," which briskly vacillates between strident expressionism and hushed introspection, spotlighting the leader's robust, hyperactive tenor. Rather than alternating instruments mid-song, Brenders stays focused; his lithe clarinet deftly navigates the stop-time rhythms of "Terrace," while his undulating bass clarinet enhances the off-kilter waltz underpinning "Whisk."
Brenders' sinuous soprano dominates the infectious "Porlock," which juxtaposes a manic march motif against a driving surf rock-inflected vamp. The nimble rhythm section's enthusiastic backbeats spur Ward's probing extrapolations and some of the leader's most stunning variationsa blistering series of controlled multiphonics, intervallic patterns and un-tempered howls. The closing title track further highlights Brenders' tenor prowess with a bristling volley of lyrically abstract cadences that complement Ward's brassy vocalizations and Segger's forceful accents.
With its modish acoustic sensibility, Brenders' streamlined writing engenders a liminal approach towards improvisation, inspiring intrepid contributions from his sidemen. An urbane yet visceral record, Offset incisively demonstrates Brenders' multifaceted abilities as an up-and-coming composer, improviser and bandleader.
Track Listing: Sciatica; Terrace; Roach; Porlock; Pond; Whisk; Stroll; Offset.
Personnel: Kyle Brenders: soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet; Steve Ward: trombone; Tomas Bouda: bass; Mark Segger: drums.
Record Label: 18th Note Records