The title, Sounds, might oversimplify the concept for Rob Brown's latest trio. Or maybe it allows for the multiple possibilities.
You see it is not just jazz sounds that are made here, nor is it only modern or avant-garde music. Brown is stretching the elastic of music-making, just like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler once did.
The only difference is that in the 21st century, to quote the band Jane's Addiction, "nothing's shocking anymore.
The saxophonist first gained attention for his work with pianist Matthew Shipp and later in the larger ensembles of bassist William Parker. His outward gestures in music seem to have an internal logic and rhythm, not unlike the music of trumpeter Roy Campbell, which are rooted in the blues.
His outstanding recordings as a sideman are: O'Neil's Porch (AUM 2001) with the William Parker Quartet, Whit Dickey's Prophet Moon (AUM 2003), and Chris Dahlgren's Best Intentions (Koch 1999) where he first worked with percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. This is Brown's second release for Portugal's Clean Feed label. The first was We Are Not Obstinate Islands (2006) in the trio called The Diplomats with drummer Harris Eisenstadt and trombonist Steve Swell.
The difference here is that the traditional trio of sax, bass, and drums is altered with Daniel Levin's cello and Takeishi trading his kit for his floor setup, complete with a Japanese taiko drum.
The disc opens with a three-part suite which was composed for dance and visual art. The procession in and out of "Sounds Part I Archaeology and "Sounds Part III Astir is a paced storytelling. Brown allows the uniqueness of his partners' instruments to be presented in an organic manner.
Wedged between, "Sounds Part II Antics is cause for movement for the dancers and foot-tapping for the listeners. Levin repeats his plucked notes behind the bluesy saxophone. Soon the cello drops out for the sax and drum duet on the same beat. Certainly a crowd pleaser, Brown drops out for the woody solo of Takeishi.
A traditional "Tibetan Folk Song features the pair of Levin and Takeishi delivering other worldlyworld music. For those listening from the tradition of avant-garde music, Brown gives us "Stutter Step, an up-tempo post-bebop speed fest that listeners of Brown's music demand. He lets us know he can burn the stage up and his partners don't lose a step either.
The disc closes with "Moment Of Pause, a ballad. Brown's tone which can be caustic, opts for a beautiful touch and just like listeners found beauty in Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor, they can indeed find beauty here.
Personnel: Rob Brown: alto saxophone; Daniel Levin: cello; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion.