All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

Ben Thomas' Endless Mountain Region: Ben Thomas' Endless Mountain Region

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Thomas' Endless Mountain Region, the debut album by this eponymous trio led by bassist Thomas—is dedicated, according to Thomas' rather funky website, "to exploring the freedom of a chordless trio." It undertakes this exploration on a series of original tunes—three each from Thomas and drummer Aaron Staebell, one from saxophonist Tony Malaby—and a version of saxophonist Ornette Coleman's "WRU," all of which were recorded live at Rochester, New York's Contemporary Art Center in November 2010.

Thomas and Staebell are part of a burgeoning group of players from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, which also includes trumpeter Dave Chisholm. Thomas and Chisholm both played on Staebell's debut, Bending And Breaking (Self Produced, 2011). Malaby is the trio's "veteran," at least in comparison to the younger pair; a player who brings his wealth of experience to bear here.

Let this music play as a background to everyday activity and it's a surprisingly pleasant and accessible companion; focus on the sound and it becomes readily apparent that there is a lot going on—a complexity that finds all three musicians crafting intriguing melodies and rhythms. While each tune is credited to a single composer there's little obvious differentiation in style, suggesting that the musicians all contribute meaningfully to each number.

Malaby plays tenor on most numbers, and the trio interplay creates a fairly homogeneous sound characterized by a warmth of tone. There are exceptions: Thomas' "Geometries III" is jagged and mysterious; while "Geometries IV" is decidedly frenetic, Malaby's tenor screeching with rage—or maybe fear. There is a definite live feel to the set, a "club sound," even though audience responses have been edited out. The downside is that Thomas' bass can be rather low in the mix at times, even when soloing—his opening solo on "Two And A Half Hours" is very quiet, indeed. Thankfully he's more prominent on Malaby's "Sky Church," for his funky bass playing does much to drive this upbeat and likeable tune forward.

When Malaby switches to soprano saxophone the contrast between double bass and soprano sax gives a greater tonal variety to the sound. On Thomas' "Two And A Half Hours," Malaby weaves the soprano in an out of Staebell and Thomas' energetic rhythm in one of the album's most invigorating passages. In the same song there's also a slightly darker section featuring a duet between Malaby's soprano and a melodica (played by Staebell but uncredited on the album sleeve). This particular duet hints at the trio's sense of humor as well as its imagination, a sure sign of Ben Thomas' Endless Mountain Region's potential.

Track Listing: Longshot; Elephant In Labor; Two And A Half Hours; Geometries III; Sky Church; Geometries IV; Proverb; WRU.

Personnel: Tony Malaby: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Ben Thomas: bass; Aaron Staebell: drums.

Title: Ben Thomas' Endless Mountain Region | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Lungbasket Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Pendulum CD/LP/Track Review
Pendulum
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 21, 2018
Read Flow Vertical CD/LP/Track Review
Flow Vertical
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 21, 2018
Read Bonafide CD/LP/Track Review
Bonafide
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 21, 2018
Read Christian McBride's New Jawn CD/LP/Track Review
Christian McBride's New Jawn
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 21, 2018
Read Bonafide CD/LP/Track Review
Bonafide
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 21, 2018
Read The Sky Above Her CD/LP/Track Review
The Sky Above Her
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 20, 2018
Read "End Game of the Anthropocene" CD/LP/Track Review End Game of the Anthropocene
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "The Subject Tonight Is Love" CD/LP/Track Review The Subject Tonight Is Love
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Mo Jodi" CD/LP/Track Review Mo Jodi
by Phillip Woolever
Published: September 27, 2018
Read "We Are All" CD/LP/Track Review We Are All
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 10, 2018
Read "Say It" CD/LP/Track Review Say It
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "From Maxville to Vanport" CD/LP/Track Review From Maxville to Vanport
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 24, 2018