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Keefe Jackson’s Likely So: A Round Goal

Hrayr Attarian By

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Chicago based multi-instrumentalist and composer Keefe Jackson's intriguingly innovative live album A Round Goal is a modern choral symphony of sorts. Recorded during the Jazzwerkstatt festival in Berne Switzerland on February 20, 2013 Jackson utilizes, in lieu of human voices, woodwinds of various ranges creating brilliantly dramatic music.

Western classical influences are apparent, throughout. On "There Is No Language Without Deceit" Polish clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel's agile, stimulating sonic dance emerges from a tightly woven backdrop of alternating refrains of rumbling low winds and the twittering high ones. A tense and thrilling conversation among the various players, laced with a touch of the blues follows.

Perhaps one of the most singularly expressive pieces is "My Time Is My Own." Swiss saxophonist Thomas Mejer's haunting, unaccompanied contrabass evolves into a melancholic, progressive exploration that is reminiscent of a con-arco stand up bass. A somber reed chorus closes the tune on an enthrallingly dark note.

Captivating harmonic contrasts are one of the unique features of the record. The two Bridge Solo's are remarkably different yet quite complementary. On the first, Jackson's evocative and angular tenor saxophone flows with intense intimacy. The second, features another Chicago native, Dave Rempis's contemplative and edgy extemporization over the entire range of his baritone saxophone from deep, vibrato filled squawks to upper register honks all the while maintaining a strong melodic sense.

Mystical and spiritual motifs permeate the disc. On "Roses" Mars Williams (also a Chicagoan) ethereal saxophone solo creates eastern flavored lilting poetry. Elsewhere on "Neither Spin Nor Weave" Swiss reedman Peter Schmid's pensive bass clarinet echoes against the quiet, collective murmur of the ensemble. His mellifluous and intricate lines are like a yearning prayer rising in an ancient, solemn church. A rawer, more ardent soulfulness is exhibited in his countryman, Marc Stucki's fiery and imaginative tenor sax improvisation. Stucki blows through the hypnotic vamps of the other horns with visceral passion.

Jackson's fourth release as a leader is a mature, one of a kind work that erases boundaries between the prewritten and the adlib and successfully blends together various genres. The provocative and invigorating music has all the makings of a classic.

Track Listing: Overture; Bridge Solo-Keefe; Was Ist Kultur?; My Time is My Own;Pastorale;There is No Language Without Deceit; Hierarchy Follies; Round Goal; Bridge Solo- Dave; Neither Spin Nor Weave; Roses.

Personnel: Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, composition; Mars Williams: sopranino, soprano, alto saxophones; Waclaw Zimpel: clarinet, alto clarinet; Marc Stucki: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, harmonium; Dave Rempis: alto and baritone saxophones; Peter Schmid: baritone, bass, sopranino saxophones, bass clarinet, e-flat clarinet; Thomas Mejer: contrabass and sopranino saxophones.

Title: A Round Goal | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Delmark Records

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CD/LP/Track Review
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