143

Scot Ray Quintet: Active Vapor Recovery

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Scot Ray Quintet: Active Vapor Recovery While unbridled intensity may have entered the jazz arena during the avant-garde explosions of the '60s, decades still remained before it would be channeled into fifty alternative outlets. One of those, the punk movement of the late '80s and early '90s, brought a number of "rock" listeners across the already-thin boundary into energy music, fueling a whole new generation of performers both inside the "downtown" scene and across the country.

Guitarist Nels Cline has frequently been associated with this particular flavor of musical expression, and it's with great portent and glee that he joins in for Active Vapor Recovery, the recording debut of trombonist Scot Ray. Cline (and brother Alex on drums) brings that sharp-but-dirty crystalline edge to the music, laying out an open (or quite often pockmarked) field for the other improvisers on the record to explore. This one is extremely funky, thanks to the combined efforts of Alex Cline and bassist Steuart Liebig. Ray rides it like a cowboy.

Take "Above Breath," for example. It gets going with a burbling, warbling trombone solo from Ray, before things settle down and Steuart Liebig's bass guitar signals the onset of a brief episode of New Orleans funk (dig the bass/drums interaction here). Cline's progressive rock theme soars atop the groove, signaling an abrupt departure into screeching energy.

The rest of Ray's composition plays with this alternating combination, dwelling more on the contrast between the parts than any ostensible similarity. Three times around and the kiddie stuff is over. Cline's distorted low-end power chords signal post-apocalyptic moans from the leader and violinist Jeff Gauthier, full improvised frenzy that dips in and out of the funk but never loses its punch. A little bass/bone interplay and it's back to home. Very, very nice.

The New Orleans theme returns again on "In Cleveland," a funky frolic through the city which rides on Alex Cline's drums and Ray's punchy, playful theme up top. Though it passes through a series of changes, the piece never loses its childlike charm. A nice solo by Gauthier gives it a heaping of full-bodied flavor.

Fifteen minutes of "Trouble With Sugar" start out in spacey, open free jazz territory with a few brief calls to open synergy. Seven minutes into the song, Liebig pushes things up and out with a friendly harmonized melody that smashes directly into a wall of noise three times before it can stretch out into a full-on group harmonized theme. Eventually that persistent, beautiful funk comes back; there's no substitute for fun.

And so it is through this study in contrasts that Ray builds a greater whole from a sum of quite discordant elements. The funkier and rockier parts take maximum advantage of the group's testosterone-rich energy, but the quintet does quite well in open spaces, too. Ray's composing is the skeleton upon which Active Vapor Recovery hangs. Beyond that, it's wide open.

This exceptional record is a certain top ten pick for 2003.


Visit Cryptogramophone on the web.


Track Listing: Three Quarks, Above Breath, Shiny Object, In Cleveland, Man as Kite, Scarabaeus, Trouble with Sugar, Active Vapor Recovery, Bitteroot

Personnel: Scot Ray, trombone; Jeff Gauthier, electric violin; Nels Cline, electric guitar; Steuart Liebig, contrabassguitars; Alex Cline, drums, percussion

Title: Active Vapor Recovery | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Cryptogramophone


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Hybrido" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrido
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Two Hands, One Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Two Hands, One Heart
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "The Other Shore" CD/LP/Track Review The Other Shore
by John Sharpe
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "The Evolution Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Evolution Suite
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "The Sparrow" CD/LP/Track Review The Sparrow
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 15, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.