Jon Raskin Quartet: The Bass & The Bird Pond

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I overheard a customer in a local submarine sandwich shop ordering lunch the other day. He gave explicit instruction and then blurted out, “...and I don’t want no skimpy meat.” That comment kept popping into my brain as I listened to Jon Raskin and Tim Berne go toe-to-toe for over an hour of recorded music. Raskin, a member of San Francisco’s ROVA Saxophone Quartet, has been making intellectually challenging music for over two decades. He has recorded with Tim Berne in the past on Pipe Dreams (1994), an extended ROVA lineup of eight horns. Where that disc got Ascension-like thick, this quartet outing allows for easy identification of players and parts. Credit Berne whose composition “Bloodcount” opens this disc. Berne, a student of the late Julius Hemphill, is a real pioneer in music today, operating the revered label Screwgun and presenting uncompromising music with his bands Bloodcount and Paraphrase. Both artists in their respective groups are striving towards a collective improvisation as opposed to a head-solo-head traditional approach. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of space to showcase the individual talents of the four artists. Bassist Michael Formanek, a frequent collaborator with Berne, demonstrates nimble and propulsive attack throughout. The band redefines the boundaries between composed and free music by placing emphasis on texture and emotion. Theirs is a challenging music, with rewards for the listener who desires to push music in new directions.

Track List:Bloodcount; The Third Path To No Where; Chapter 69, Death; The Bass & The Bird Pond.

Personnel: Jon Raskin

Record Label: New World Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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