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How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Those who mine exploratory veins of music often eschew structure, confusing lack of form with freedom, but trumpeter Tim Hagans knows the difference. The new quartet that he's convened for The Moon Is Waiting is a malleable unit that thrives on bringing unpredictable ideas into structured environments. The music it makes isn't fusion, free jazz, or post-modern patchwork, but it borders on all of those territories
While the first three pieces were commissioned by the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble, they don't require accompanying visual stimuli to be stimulating from an artistic stand point. "Ornette's Waking Dream Of A Woman" is introduced with the sounds of suspicion, leading to an explosive second act, while the title track is underscored by constant cacophony. A mysterious ten-note motif makes its mark as the last of these three pieces, "Get Outside," sets sail, but the music takes a drastic turn when drummer Jukkis Uotila shifts to piano. He delivers curious yet stable chordal statements which serve as dividing markers between abstract musings from Hagans and guitarist Vic Juris
. Eventually, the piece erupts into a Black Sabbath-worthy groove in seven, with Hagans running rampant atop the mix.
While Hagans has always been a visionary, capable of charting his own course without any outside help, influence or direction, his sidemen on this date help to determine how these pieces play out. Bassist Rufus Reid
' chameleon-like abilities help to broaden the sonic variety in the music and, while he's not as well-known as the other musicians, Jukkis Uotila proves to be a powder keg of percussive intensity. He swings in beyond-bop fashion, as Juris and a Freddie Hubbard
-like Hagans show what they're made of ("First Jazz"), and he engages the rest of the musicians with perpetual drumming motion as he scampers across the rangy terrain of Hagans' compositions. His steady rhythmic barrage is actually one of the defining characteristics of this ensemble.
Hagans has proven to be a master compositional architect in more formal settings, but his ability to let loose with this small group is the key to its success. The Moon Is Waiting is a marvel of elastic expressions from one of the most shrewd and intelligent minds in jazz today.
Track Listing: Ornette's Waking Dream Of A Woman; The Moon Is Waiting; Get Outside; First Jazz; Boo; What I'll tell Her; Wailing Trees; Things Happen In A Convertible.