Jason Roebke Octet: Cinema Spiral

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
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

Personnel: 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.

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


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read The Chase CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Paint CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read A Pouting Grimace CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Life on the Edge" CD/LP/Track Review Life on the Edge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Isang" CD/LP/Track Review Isang
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Double Strike" CD/LP/Track Review Double Strike
by James Nadal
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Live at the Blue Whale" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Blue Whale
by Phillip Woolever
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Whisper to the Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Whisper to the Wind
by Jim Olin
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.