Act Necessary is clarinetist-composer Andy Biskin's fifth album, where he integrates the jazz idiom into Americana, slapstick fare, funk and other disparate genres. He's an artist who stands out among his peers as he goes against the grain, while always mingling wit and whimsy into his overall musicality. Biskin's amiable and bubbly clarinet work forges an entryway into off-center rhythmic exercises amid a good-timey vibe; however, his music is not saccharine or schmaltzy. And he employs an all-star unit on this bass-less endeavor as he unifies old school jazz values, happy grooves and edgy overtones with shrewdly concocted modern jazz frameworks into the grand schema.
"Page 17" emphasizes Biskin's multicolored artistic attributes and overt sense of humor, without sacrificing stellar musicianship. It's a serious-minded and deceptively complex oeuvre, tinted with pathos, Klezmer, and movements that could serve as a soundtrack for a silent movie. The band generates warmth yet also builds up steam with changeable pulses, fluid motion, and a slap, dab, like delivery. It's an entertaining and jubilant work as the soloists have some fun with the rhythmic underpinnings. Moreover, trombonist Bryan Drye's blustery solo spot segues to a bluesy and hopping mini-motif via the ensemble's buoyant delivery. No one hogs the spotlight here because Biskin enacts a democratic outlook for his band-mates. Among other positives, "Page 17" captures his exceptionally strong and idiosyncratic composing principles.
Andy Biskin: clarinet; Jeff Davis: drums and percussion; Brian Drye: trombone; Kirk Knufke: cornet.