137

Gold Sparkle Trio with Ken Vandermark: Brooklyn Cantos

By

Sign in to view read count
Gold Sparkle Trio with Ken Vandermark: Brooklyn Cantos Maintaining focus in free jazz seems like an oxymoron. By free, obviously, one assumes no rules, no shackles, and no restrictions. This is fine and dandy in theory; in execution, though, some do better than others with this musical autonomy. It might be free all right, but, is it music and, more importantly to us, is it even jazz?

Brooklyn Cantos, thankfully, is focused free jazz, adventurous music with a purpose. The Gold Sparkle Trio of alto saxophonist Charles Waters, bassist Adam Roberts, and drummer Andrew Barker plays host to the like-minded Ken Vandermark on seven original tunes. Vandermark, more than most contemporary musicians, constantly delves into this environment, where music pushes the boundaries of structure, seducing rigidity to mold new forms and styles. For its part, the Gold Sparkle Trio (also known as the Gold Sparkle Band) enjoys similar avenues; the group's previous albums, Earth Mover, Fugues and Flowers, and Nu Soul Zodiac, are as daring and delightfully unpredictable as anything from the Vandermark 5.

On Brooklyn Cantos, the moods and themes are diverse, as might be expected from these musicians. The opening number, "People's Republic," starts on a somber beat, at a sleepy pace that soon gives way to a ragged dance and screeching solos by Vandermark and Waters. The progression of the song recalls other Vandermark projects, with a slanted take on structure providing the tune's excitement. The two Ornette Coleman-like tunes, "'Burg Girl" and "Game Over," are wonderful bop kernels, popping and flying through the group's dense air of rhythm and melody. "Marcella Variations" is the album's best-realized piece, a mature work that does more with less hysterics and less fanciful technique, employing a simple, soulful path instead. Vandermark's bass clarinet and Waters' alto sax float and relax atop the languid pace of Roberts and Barker, a soothing, effortless sensation that does much to ease any remaining apprehensions of free jazz.

Brooklyn Cantos demands some artistic assumptions on its most challenging piece, the nearly thirteen minutes of "Architexture #12 (718)." It might be coincidental or not, but even here, where a nonlinear progression is clearly celebrated, the group's motions are hardly alienating. True, it can be dissonant at times, but the idea and its implementation remain clear and musical. The vast latitudes of this song have a way of intoxicating the mind, allowing the more solemn "Autumn Ever" to fully settle in with less listener apprehension. As with "Marcella Variations," the group does more in minimalist patterns here; this is uncomplicated, accessible music. The album's finale, "Carpet Quarterbagger," brings a street-fair-like joy with a pounding drumbeat and funky horn riff parading us to a raucous conclusion.

It might be too early to start handing out "best-of" praises for 2005, but Brooklyn Cantos is clearly the class act at this point. An accessible album that gives free jazz a good name is, in itself, a marvel in any year.

Track Listing: People's Republic; 'Burg Girl; Marcella Variations #1; Game Over; Architexture #12 (718); Autumn Ever; Carpet Quarterbagger.

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: tenor sax, Bb, bass clarinet; Charles Waters: alto sax, Bb, Eb clarinet; Adam Roberts: bass; Andrew Barker: drums.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Squealer | Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Apocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "AMa AZa LaNdO" CD/LP/Track Review AMa AZa LaNdO
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "Without All the Chatter" CD/LP/Track Review Without All the Chatter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Sounds of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds of 3
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Where the Blue Begins" CD/LP/Track Review Where the Blue Begins
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 7, 2017

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!