Stephan Crump: Reclamation (2010)

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Stephan Crump: Reclamation
The 2006 debut of Stephan Crump's Rosetta (Papillon Sounds) was unusual in a number of ways, not least that it didn't seem to be trying to be unusual. The trio of upright bass, acoustic guitar and electric guitar played tightly woven, structured music, even without a drummer, and managed to find new ground in the shrinking territory between hackneyed and outlandish. They played, quite simply, good, challenging and, although the term must be forgiven, smooth jazz.

Bassist Crump has worked most notably with pianist Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
b.1971
piano
, but has also booked time with saxophonist Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
b.1946
saxophone
and drummer Bobby Previte
Bobby Previte
Bobby Previte
b.1957
drums
, all leaders who chart new paths across well-trod pastures. His guitarists bring a wealth of information to the effort: Liberty Ellman is best known as a member of reed man Henry Threadgill
Henry Threadgill
Henry Threadgill
b.1944
reeds
's Zooid, and has worked with saxophonists Steve Coleman
Steve Coleman
Steve Coleman
b.1956
saxophone
, Greg Osby
Greg Osby
Greg Osby
b.1960
saxophone
and Matana Roberts
Matana Roberts
Matana Roberts

sax, alto
; Jamie Fox
Jamie Fox
Jamie Fox
b.1953
guitar
for his part has backed jazz organist Brother Jack McDuff
Jack McDuff
Jack McDuff
1926 - 2001
organ, Hammond B3
and folk singer Joan Baez. The electric and acoustic aren't at odds, however. The rich tonality of Fox's hollowbody, played without effects, and the sharp edge of Ellman's undersized parlor guitar come off more like kissing cousins than sibling rivals.

Key to it all, of course, is Crump's compositional sense. The themes on their sophomore release Reclamation are at once bright and catchy, but at the same time well integrated within the ensemble playing. When melodies surface, they are very nearly of the toe-tapping variety—Johnny Mercer can nearly be heard joining in, in song—before submerging again into the nest of strings. Crump stretches out this time with the 14-minute "Pernambuco," but there's still an inherent song-sensibility at play. This may be dinner music for a new era, which just means a new calm within a common storm. It's a fine respite.

Track Listing: Memphis; Silogism; The Leaves, the Rain; Overreach; Here Not Here; Shoes, Jump Escalateur; Pernambuco; Toward Fall.

Personnel: Liberty Ellman: acoustic guitar; Jamie Fox: electric guitar; Stephan Crump: acoustic bass.

Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Style: Beyond Jazz


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