Jason Roebke Octet: Cinema Spiral

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Jason Roebke Octet: Cinema Spiral
Bassists leading mid-size bands inevitably bring to mind the trail-blazing precedent established by Charles Mingus. Others like Dave Holland, Barry Guy and Adam Lane followed. To that roster can be added bassist Jason Roebke, one of the stalwarts of the productive Chicago scene. Cinema Spiral constitutes the sophomore effort by his Octet, following on from High/Red/Center (Delmark, 2014). He reunites the same raft of Windy City flair as on the debut outing for a continuous suite demarcated into seven parts with thematic material shared across the cuts.

Voluble polyphony appears the outfit's calling card, with group interchange favored above discrete solo spots. The eight musicians are subsumed into Roebke's concept in which the compositional elements tend to be purposefully obscure, as one or two instruments sketch out written lines within the ongoing conversational interplay. But of course there are occasions where individuals assume prominence, with Jason Adasiewicz's radiant vibes and Jason Stein's fluttering bass clarinet particularly well represented. Roebke's choice of vibes to underpin the ensemble reflects what a compelling presence Adasiewicz has become, and means that the realization of the charts remains harmonically open and allows the simultaneous invention to thrive unconstrained.

In the opening "Looking directly into the camera" a series of portentous block chords, which recurs at intervals throughout the album, introduces Roebke's pizzicato bass unaccompanied to set out his stall, before gentle meditation with vibes and horns. Later the ballad style "For a Moment" features Josh Berman's languid trumpet pontifications. In general Roebke keeps the handbrake on, leading to a program notable for considered rather than high energy exchanges. The exception comes in "People Laughing" where the horns quarrel over choppy rhythm before order gradually asserts itself, as the Stein continues his overblown chunter.

Although Jeb Bishop ruminates prettily on the fast swinging "Waiting," while the other horns flank him in unison, it's not until the final "L'acmé" that a joyful sweeping melody emerges from the horn give and take. Greg Ward's sour sweet alto saxophone proposes attractive counterpoint and leads to some garrulous interaction, before the piece concludes with the leader's quiet plucked musings accompanied by Adasiewicz's chiming vibes, in an echo of the initial gambit. If there was a cinematic equivalent, it might be an experimental documentary, though one which makes its point without strong narrative or heightened drama.

Track Listing

Looking directly into the camera; Focusing; For a Moment; Getting High; People Laughing; Waiting; L'acmé


Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Keefe Jackson: tenor, sopranino saxophones, contrabass clarinet; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Josh Berman: trumpet; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibes; Jason Roebke: bass; Mike Reed: drums.

Album information

Title: Cinema Spiral | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

Post a comment about this album


View events near Chicago
Jazz Near Chicago
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon


Read Brazil
Mike Barone Big Band
Read Liga Latina
Liga Latina
Liga Latina
Read The Call Within
The Call Within
Tigran Hamasyan
Read Light In The World
Light In The World
Nocturnal Four
Read A Time And A Place
A Time And A Place
Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.