Trombonist Jacob Garchik
has an interest in musical subtraction. His 2012 release The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album
(Yestereve Records) presented religious music stripped of religion. Clear Line
(Yestereve Records) from 2020 featured a 13-piece big band with no rhythm section. Now comes Assembly
, an inquiry into what a jazz quintet sounds like when added to itself.
Garchik declares both method and intent in his song titles; the first three cuts are "Collage," "Pastiche" and "Bricolage." The first lays a series of portentous, fanfare-y unison band statements over the distant chatter of the quintet playing some up-tempo bebop workout. It's as though an open studio mic picked up the sound of a stray earbud playing a Steve Lacy / Roswell Rudd
track during the session. "Pastiche" begins with what might pass as a lost recording of the 1976 Anthony Braxton
Quartet with George Lewis
playing a long, snaky line with uncanny precision. After Garchik's straight-ahead solo on blues changes, the opening line returns at an impossible tempo in a mad dash to the finish line. It must have been electronically manipulated, though considering the capabilities of saxophonist Sam Newsome
, Jacob Sacks
on piano, bassist Thomas Morgan
and drummer Dan Weiss
, one never knows.
Multiplication drives the somber, John Coltrane
-ish "Homage" by building a 13-piece band (two saxophones, four trombones, four pianos, four basses and three drummers) through overdubs. "Fanfare" alternates slices of a tender piano/trombone duo on Duke Ellington
's "In A Sentimental Mood," played straight and with a lyricism worthy of Lawrence Brown
, with a hectic, up-and-down stepwise figure for full band. Compare and contrast.
There are elements of John Zorn
's jump cut method in Garchik's madness as well as a Braxtonian fondness for setting multiple spinning figures in motion against each other, as he does on the dizzyingly looped "Idée Fixe." No studio trickery was used to make the digeridoo sound at the beginning of "Fantasia." Sam Newsome did that in real-time through defiantly analogue means, attaching a hose to his soprano saxophone to drop its range. It's an example of how Garchik inoculates the project from tedious self-indulgence with a healthy dose of genuine curiosity and playfulness.
Conceptual jazz never sounded like so much fun.
Collage; Pastiche; Bricolage; Homage; Fanfare; Idée Fixe; Fantasia; Impromptu; Reverie.