How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Downstairs at the Cornelia Street Café in the Village is one of the more intimate places to see live jazz in the city. The program there is intentionally eclectic and siLENT Z Live, from altoist Pete Robbins
, captures his angular group in those comfortable environs.
All other things being equal, the make or break for a live recording is the extent to which the performances thus immortalized remain fresh enough to endure repeated listening. Is the spontaneity and closeness, which allow live playing to be engaging, translated to disc in a way that retains that evening's communal spark? Robbins' quintet succeeds admirably in this mission as top-notch players, the room and, most of all, the music align for an engaging evening worth revisiting.
Robbins' alto, which impresses with its complex lines and crisp phrasing, is ideal for this group that, though judiciously using electronics, lays more emphasis on instrumental timbre. Guitarist Mike Gamble plays as cleanly as Robbins and the two beautifully meld on mood pieces like the touching "His Life," for all its Waywardness" and "Cankers and Medallions," as well as rock out when called for on "Some Southern Anthem." Like Gamble, cornetist Jesse Neumann is able to lend his tone to Robbins' in ways that expand the sonic gestalt, making for a beautifully open soundscape. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey
, fast becoming a jazz wonder of the world, in tandem with bassist Thomas Morgan, is able to followactually, more correctly, to expand furtherthese intricate pieces, while keeping the often very delicate structures from collapsing. Multiple styles, subtle building blocks and cerebral instrumental interplay give siLENT Z Live its especially engaging voice.
Track Listing: Edit/Revise; His Life, for all its Waywardness; Cankers and Medallions; Some Southern Anthem; Bugle Call; Elliotsong; But if it's Empty; Improvisation.
Personnel: Pete Robbins:alto saxophone; Jesse Neuman: cornet and pedals; Cory Smythe: piano; Mike Gamble: guitar and pedals; Thomas Morgan: bass;
Tyshawn Sorey: drums.