Saxophonist John O'Gallagher spearheads this provocative, rewarding trio outing as he, bassist Masa Kamaguchi, and drummer Jay Rosen turn some standards inside out without ever losing sight of the melodies or chord changes. These particular performances cover a wide range of approaches from ruminative unmetered free rhythms to robust swinging, with due consideration given to some of Lennie Tristano's ideas.
O'Gallagher, who plays wildly imaginative solos on both alto and soprano saxophones, has professed admiration for both Tristano and Lee Konitz, and he employs the long lines characteristic of their work, as well as the polytonality that Tristano was exploring. However, on "Leakey's Bag," this trio takes key changes to a denser level then Tristano ever proposed, as O'Gallagher modulates in and out of "I Got Rhythm," seemingly in every bar. On the other hand, on "You Ain't All That," there's less polytonality but just as much invention. And although O'Gallagher sometimes plays long lines, he generally avoids the unaccented eighth notes in Konitz's playing, instead, opting for explosive double-time or very fast flurries of triplets. At other times, he riffs aggressively, even when engaged in free playing, as on "It's Very Deep." O'Gallagher also explodes in aggressive bursts of sustained swinging. Among younger saxophonists (he's 40), John O'Gallagher is emerging as a major voice.
But Rules Of Invisibility Volume 1 is a group enterprise. It's far more than O'Gallagher fronting a trio. This is very interactive music. Bassist Kamaguchi can swing like mad, as he does on "Leakey's Bag," and he also shadows O'Gallagher and Rosen with effective counterpoint. His measured, stately dance on "Titans Stride" is a fine example of his intuitive gifts. Drummer Rosen also contributes a stellar performance. Although most often associated with free playing, Rosen can also dig in and swing. In fact, he's a master of bop drumming, and he demonstrates it over and over again here.
These performances are all based on well-known standards. Whether in a swinging or rubato context, the melodies are often detectable, and the witty song titles may help shed light on the source material. For instance, "Leakey's Bag" is "Anthropology," "You Ain't All That" is "All The Things You Are." And so on. The booklet notes state there's going to be a Rules Of Invisibility Volume 2. If it's as good as Volume 1, I can't wait.
Personnel: John O'Gallagher, alto sax, soprano sax; Masa Kamaguchi, bass; Jay Rosen, drums.