You can take bassist Joshua Abrams out of his Natural Information Society, but you can't take the Natural Information Society out of Abrams. His long- lived ensemble, which traffics in long-form psychedelic environmental music, has made a permanent imprint on just about everything Abrams does. In bands led by Nicole Mitchell, Hamid Drake, Dave Rempis, and Rob Mazurek, Abrams' acoustic bass sound is hypnotic and mesmerizing. The same can be said for this one-off Cloud Script quartet.
The ensemble, which was marshaled to perform at the 2016 Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Chicago, recorded this music the next day. Abrams' choice of musicians informs this session. Ari Brown, a stalwart of the AACM, can also be heard with Kahil El'Zabar and occasionally in Abrams' NIS. Guitarist Jeff Parker and the bassist have crossed paths numerous times including Abrams' two Eremite Records releases, Represencing (2012) and Magnetoception (2015). Cleaver, who hadn't previously recorded with Abrams, may be the linchpin here. His chameleon-like performance allows this session to move in divergent patterns. His slow-moving groove on "In Place of Memory" maintains the architecture of the composition as his partners slowly dismantle the music. Ari Brown's luxurious (dare we say opulent?) tone soothes throughout, even when the quartet is driving the very busy Ornette Coleman-like musings of "Collapsing Novelty," which finds Abrams mixing bowed bass against Cleaver and Parker's thunderous attack. Writing for a quartet like this allows Abrams to deal with contrasting approaches. "Harbor" is fashioned much as the trance music heard in NIS and while it is the shortest track on the disc, its sound patterns are almost ceaseless. Elsewhere, Parker's well-picked notes counter the busied "Echo Tracer," and "Duke Hill" is a merger of the stylings of Duke Ellington (by way of Billy Strayhorn) and Andrew Hill. Ending with the ballad "Coniunctio," the quartet eschews independent expression in favour of the ineffable beauty of Abrams' composition. While this might have been planned to be a one-off outing, the music suggests Joshua Abrams' Cloud Script has much more to say.
In Place of Memory; Harbor; Echo Tracer; Duke Hill; Collapsing Novelty; Coniunctio.