246

Daniel Blacksberg: Bit Heads

Clifford Allen By

Sign in to view read count
Daniel Blacksberg: Bit Heads It's somewhat surprising that there aren't too many active trombone/bass/drums power trios around, with the model being strongly set in the late 1970s New York scene by such bands as BassDrumBone (trombonist Ray Anderson, drummer Gerry Hemingway, bassist Mark Helias) and the comparable, albeit freer group Brahma, with drummer Barry Altschul. The lack of current 'bone-heavy units is notable, especially given the resurgent appreciation for such architects on the instrument as Roswell Rudd, Grachan Moncur III, Albert Mangelsdorff and Paul Rutherford. With the vinyl-only release of Bit Heads, we can add Philadelphia-based trombonist Daniel Blacksberg to the short list of players chancing a trio stretch. Blacksberg is a player who has clearly done a lot of listening to his forebears—Mangelsdorff, Moncur, and George Lewis—as well as other brass instrumentalists who explore the wide point of extended technique. But what's notable is that, as an improviser, Blacksberg is far from showy, eschewing the rampant brashness of BassDrumBone and Brahma for a cooler, introspective detail and an easy egalitarianism with his trio mates (bassist John Barrios and drummer Mike Szekely).

"Fanfare for a Scrambled Race" opens the set with a crumpled dexterity, the foreshortened nature of Blacksberg's phrases recalling some of Moncur's late '60s free work (as on the piece "Exploration," from the 1969 BYG LP New Africa), as well as an incisive narrowness gleaned from a lineage of post-Don Cherry free trumpeters. The ballad "Just Shy of Hope" is wistful leaderless dusk, low-angled bass thrum and lackadaisical brush accents shading around the trombonist's drifting sighs and moans. A guttural, vocal snatch of bluesiness arises from the rhythm section's distracted patter and burble, drawn out into cutting lines that give the nod to a much older brass tradition. Metallic dabs from Szekely and Barrios' rubbery pizzicato are a perfect complement to the leader's waxy plunger exposition on "The Elastic Character," gutsy trio-logue in continual micro-bursts that culminate in buzzing multiphonics. All of the pieces here are fairly short, with only two much over the five minute mark, and there's not an extraordinary development of improvisational storytelling—indeed, the improvisations are more like vignettes of action, filled with presence and conversation rather than an overarching scheme.

That said, the two longer pieces do satisfy and the threesome gets into some heavy playing—"Combing the Post-Apocalypse" features some nasty whining arco bass, mirrored by throaty brass hum and extended linear blat, which slowly develops into an icily quixotic slink, supported by Szekely's knitted airy accents. The closing "Shot to the End" rides on surges of rattling energy, percussive shades of Sunny Murray and Sven-Ake Johansson propelling short swaggers and muted gnawing as the trio alternates between staccato detour and jumbled walk. Bit Heads is an impressive debut from a trio that espouses a dry and knotty playing field.


Track Listing: Fanfare For A Scrambled Race; Just Shy Of Hope; The Elastic Character; At Least Understanding; From the Chamber; Combing The Postapocalypse; Deforestation; The Closer; Shot To The End.

Personnel: Daniel Blacksberg: trombone; John Barrios: bass; Mike Szekely: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Mass" CD/LP/Track Review Mass
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Evergreen (Canceled World)" CD/LP/Track Review Evergreen (Canceled World)
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Garden" CD/LP/Track Review Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "The Julian Hartwell Project" CD/LP/Track Review The Julian Hartwell Project
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 18, 2016
Read "Apocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!