The widely acclaimed collaborative nature of the contemporary Chicago jazz scene is expertly demonstrated on Cinema Spiral, the sophomore effort by double bassist Jason Roebke's all-star Octet, which continues the creative in-roads made on the unit's celebrated 2014 Delmark Records debut, High/Red/Center.
Starring eight of the Windy City's most intrepid improvisers, the ensemble features the muscular frontline of cornetist Josh Berman, trombonist Jeb Bishop, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson, and bass clarinetist Jason Stein. Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, who adds distinctive color to the proceedings, joins Roebke and drummer Mike Reed as part of the responsive rhythm section.
In addition to his sidemen's myriad connections, Roebke has played with each member of the Octet in a number of different configurations, including Adasiewicz's Rolldown, Berman's trio, Bishop's trio, Jackson's quartet, Reed's People Places & Things, Stein's Locksmith Isidore, and Ward's 10 Tongues, among others. Testing his band's cooperative sensibility and improvisational mettle, Roebke pens deceptively simple but tightly arranged charts with ample room allotted for unpredictable spontaneous detours.
The continuous seven-part opus features a series of recurring motifssimilar to film score cuesthat appear at regular intervals throughout the set. Caterwauling polyphony and passages of aleatoric impressionism establish the album's avant-garde tone, though Roebke's writing is more Technicolor than black & white. The serene ballad "For a Moment" stands in stark contrast to the cacophonous collectivism of "People Laughing," while harmonious swing materializes on the grooving number "Waiting," and the ebullient 6/8 sway of the closer "L'acmé."
The late 1960s Blue Note recordings of luminaries like Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and Jackie McLean have had a noticeable influence on Chicago's current generation of musiciansRoebke included. But Roebke has managed to incorporate the angular melodies and lockstep rhythms of those seminal classics into his own writing far more organically than most. Aided by the stellar contributions of his bandmates, Cinema Spiral offers a keen summary of Roebke's burgeoning talents as a bassist, composer, and bandleader of note.
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.