The late trombonist, composer, and educator Bob Brookmeyer
's greatest gift to the world may well be the legion of wonderful musicians whom he mentored during his tenure at the New England Conservatory. A list of the more recent generation of Brookmeyer students read like a Whos' Who of 21st Century jazz: John Hollenbeck
, Maria Schneider
, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society
, Matana Roberts
and Ryan Truesdell
, to name a few. Add to this select group Christian Pincock
, a gifted improvisor and composer who, like Brookmeyer himself, specializes in the valve trombone. Not a prolific recording artist, Plentiful Excitement
is Pincock's first since 2004's Reflections of the City
which featured the then-unknown bassist Moppa Elliott
and pianist Jesse Stacken
. Though he's worked extensively with various forms of avant-garde music including conduction ensembles, computer- generated music, free improvisation, and solo works for electronically-modified trombone the acoustic modern mainstream jazz approach evident on Pincock's earlier release is further extended and refined on Plentiful Excitement
Recorded in Albuquerque while Pincock held a teaching position in the music department at the University of New Mexico, Plentiful Excitement
features a capable and seasoned local band, including pianist Robert Muller
, drummer Richard Compton
, and tuba- player Mark Weaver
. They do more than just negotiate Pincock's tricky compositions; their relaxed and assured vibe really brings Pincock's pieces to life, and both Weaver and Muller solo with gusto and verve throughout. Pincock's approach on the valve trombone is very nimble and trumpet- like. His solo on "Entertaining Company" is a case in point. Backed by sparse drums and chugging tuba, Pincock uses long tones to set the scene, breaking these up into shorter, more convoluted phrases as his solo progresses. Despite its cheery title, "Lily Bakes a Pie" has a stately, mournful quality that's a bit reminiscent of Myra Melford
's early work, for example Even The Sounds Shine
(Hatology, 1995). Here, Muller's exultant piano solo has a darting unpredictability, eventually building to orchestral proportions. A student of the great Andrew Hill
, Muller is a spirited, profoundly rhythmic improvisor who demonstrates a firm grasp on the demands of Pincock's compositions.
Pincock's choice of tuba, rather than string bass, to supply the bottom end works really well. Though Weaver functions primarily as a bassist, he occasionally joins Pincock in the foreground as Muller seamlessly shifts into the bass-player role. This is most evident on the somber "Virtual Religion," a piece which seems to take off on certain elements introduced in "Lily Bakes a Pie." Weaver's out in front on the theme, adding high-register squeaks and squiggles, and gets a lovely solo in before Pincock takes over with what may be his finest solo of the session. Most of this album, however, is upbeat and rhythmically active. Compton handles the odd time signatures and metric modulations throughout these pieces with ease. His playing, while splashy and appropriately busy, never gets in the way.
After recording Plentiful Excitement
Pincock departed New Mexico for the arguably greener pastures of Seattle, where he's quickly become an important figure in that city's ever- burgeoning modern jazz scene. Hopefully, this move will translate into a busier recording schedule for this excellent young trombonist and composer.