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Bruno R: Ascensio

Dan McClenaghan By

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The bottom end is a big presence on Bruno Råberg's Ascensio, fitting for a bassist-led quartet... a solid, emphatic heartbeat for the rest of the band to contend with.

Bassist Bruno Råberg, the Swedish-born Berklee educator, incorporated a foundation of Scandinavian folk tunes in his previous Orbis outing, Presence ; as he does here. Shifting meters, unusual time signatures, a muscular rhythmic pulse behind the front line horns, combined with a drummer (Marcello Pelitteri) who divides the spaces with the snap and pop of emphatic punctuations. Add to this the ineffable "Scandinavian tinge," and Ascensio has a sound that seems familiar and foreign at the same time.

Råberg's bass voice is insistent, an ever-looming presence for the horns—Phil Grenadier on trumpet and Alan Chase on soprano and alto sax—to weave their sinuous lines around. The piano-less quartet is more often associated with the free jazz arena, but Ascensio is a Råberg-composed effort. His tunes are a bit off-kilter (to the American ear) but highly accessible, with flowing melodies and a structure that allows lots of room for front line soloing. Both horn men are stellar in their team and individual efforts therein. Chase has a relaxed approach, full of cool logic; and Grenadier can at times sound slightly anguished, a scratchy Miles Davis '58 Milestones tone, stretching his lines then turning around and biting them off.

The title track opens with a gravelly bowed bass, with the horns supplying a jerky rhythm before the roll into some clean unison blowing leading into two truly entrancing, back-to-back horn solos. The highlight in a highlight-filled outing.

Visit Orbis Music on the web at www.orbismusic.com

Track Listing: Maya; African Daybreak; Through the Window of Compassion; Stilts; Ascensio; Estaron; Triptych; Easter Song; Caffe Nero; Angle of Repose

Personnel: Phil Grenadier

Title: Ascensio | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Orbis Music

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