Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
47

Elliott Sharp Trio: Aggregat

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Elliott Sharp Trio: Aggregat Long revered for his innovative approach to the electric guitar, composer Elliott Sharp's laudable but lesser known skills as a saxophonist finally come to the fore on Aggregat. Accompanied by bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ches Smith, Sharp performs on soprano and tenor saxophones, in addition to his main axe. In light of Sharp's oeuvre, this atypically straightforward trio setting intriguingly frames his progressive aesthetic within the context of a cross-generational ensemble.

Jones came to prominence performing with the Jazz Passengers and Marc Ribot in the Downtown NYC scene, a decade after luminaries like Sharp and John Zorn had established a creative foothold. Smith's resume bridges the gap between generations, with memberships in the bands of veterans such as Ribot and Tim Berne, as well as in those of younger peers like Mary Halvorson and Trevor Dunn. Transcending differences in age and experience, the trio revels in freewheeling avant-garde accord, infusing every twist, turn and detour of Sharp's idiosyncratic interpretations of the jazz tradition with vim and vigor.

Although Sharp's solo guitar recording Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk! (Clean Feed, 2006) confirmed his interest in more conventional aspects of the jazz canon, little in his discography (other than some soundtrack work) will prepare listeners for the thorny saxophone driven bop that dominates this session. The buoyant opener, "Nucular," is dedicated to Sonny Rollins and exudes the sort of pliant rhythmic sensibility and bracing melodic invention that the honoree is renowned for, albeit intensified with an expressionistic, Ayler-esque flair. More abstract fare, like the spiky "Mal Du Droit" and the roiling "Estuary," emphasize Sharp's most outré sensibilities; his glottal avian refrains and warbling trills negotiate all manner of vertiginous angles and dissonant intervals, oblique structural facets that Jones and Smith keenly underscore with an elastic sense of time and wide range of textural dynamics.

Half the tunes highlight Sharp's singular saxophone prowess, while the remainder feature his kaleidoscopic fretwork, which is as distinctive as his highly personalized reed technique. From the reverb-drenched surrealism of Spaghetti Western-inspired fanfares ("Satan Sandwich") and wily deconstructed blues ("Hard Landing"), to blistering free bop ("The Grip"), futuristic cyber-punk ("Positronics") and phantasmagoric tone poems ("Refractory"), Sharp's peerless six-string wizardry surpasses stylistic limitations as readily as genre clichés.

Though sonically adventurous, Aggregat is ultimately far more accessible than Sharp's usual releases, revealing a diverse array of multihued charms upon repeated spins.


Track Listing: Nucular; Hard Landing; Mal Du Droit; The Grip; Allelia; Gegenschein; Refractory; Global Swarming; Positronics; Estuary; Figure Of Speech; Satan Sandwich.

Personnel: Elliott Sharp: tenor and soprano saxophones, electric guitar; Brad Jones: bass; Ches Smith: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
DVD/Film Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk!
Sharp? Monk? Sharp!...
Clean Feed Records
2015
buy
Momentum Anomaly
Momentum Anomaly
New Atlantis Records
2014
buy
[no cover]
Momentum Anomaly
Emanem
2013
buy
Quintet
Quintet
Clean Feed Records
2013
buy
Crossing The Waters
Crossing The Waters
Intakt Records
2013
buy
Aggregat
Aggregat
Clean Feed Records
2012
buy
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Bill Frisell Bill Frisell
guitar
John Zorn John Zorn
sax, alto
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar
Derek Bailey Derek Bailey
guitar
Fred Frith Fred Frith
guitar
Ned Rothenberg Ned Rothenberg
saxophone
Henry Kaiser Henry Kaiser
guitar, electric

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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