Samuel Blaser writes and plays daringly on his debut as a leader, blending free jazz sensibilities with a straight-ahead approach. And if a trombone ever flourished in a free jazz vein, it's here.
"Sans Titre," with its faux military theme, sets the tone as Blaser and guitarist Scott Dubois march side by side. Blaser's effective use of multiphonics on the title cut makes it sound like he's accompanying himself or being overdubbed. And Dubois, whose style and timbre are reminiscent of Pat Metheny, plays deft, flowing lines here and throughout the disc.
The centerpiece of this auspicious debut is the three-part "Metamorphose Suite," a circular work with ambitious writing and playing. Drummer Gerald Cleaver lays a bold rhythmic foundation and bassist Thomas Morgan's pizzicato is an equally strong voice. Blaser shows his sense of humor by returning to the marching band theme with "On 175th Street" and saves the best for last with "La Vache," a showcase for his playing and composing talents and definitely a standard on the horizon.
The confidence with which Blaser and the band plays is impressive and his range can shift between Dixieland growls and soulful musing. He builds ideas and expands on them artfully without a dead end in sight. He can play some serious music without taking himself too seriously and is well on his way to claiming a prominent place in the forefront of jazz.
Sans Titre; Au 7eme Ciel; Metamorphose Suite I: Metamorphose; Metamorphose Suite II: Entre-Deux; Metamorphose Suite III: Metaphore; On 175th Street; La Vache.
Samuel Blaser: trombone; Scott DuBois: guitar; Thomas Morgan: double bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.
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