Music based in trombone, piano, and drums is full of round edges. It doesn't attack listeners with sharp points but rather envelops them, like a soft blanket or heat rays from the sun when it reappears from behind a cloud.
Abstracts, Jacob Garchik's debut as a leader, presents the young but very veteran New York trombonist in a wonderfully pithy session with two equally young veterans in Jacob Sacks (piano) and Dan Weiss (drums). Eight pieces, entitled "Abstract 01 through "Abstract 08, make up the album; the word "abstract is defined as "something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger thing or several things. Here the trio plays Garchik compositions that hint at things much larger, snatches of ideas that could be more expansive.
But Garchik's experience is evident in that no abstract exceeds six minutes. The music's brevity is its appeal. Any one of the tunes, be it a melancholy ballad, modern construction, or bop workout, could easily become tiresome if expanded to the usual eight to twelve minutes found on most jazz albums. This is no slight against the composing; Garchik's writing is fresh and fluid, slightly seditious but never less than mellifluous. Rather, the trombonist knows when to quit, compacting the densest or sparsest ideas into digestible morsels.
When the trio played much of the music from Abstracts at Barbès last month, there was a little more stretching but not too much, the spirit of economy very evident. This is quiet thoughtful music, and too much dissonance or brash soloing would have been both indulgent and inappropriate. Though Garchik leads and writes, Sacks' classical sonorities and Weiss' intelligent percussion are both absolutely critical to the music's success.
In performance, the audience, mostly appreciative musicians, saw what on the record had been a young sapling turn into a strong tree with three strapping limbs, growing from the same trunk but still very independent. That is another feature of music based in trombone, piano, and drums: everyone has his range and responsibility. On Abstracts, these are taken care of quickly and effectively.