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.
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 hornsPhil Grenadier on trumpet and Alan Chase on soprano and alto saxto 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.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.