Home » Jazz Articles » Colter Frazier Quartet: Colter Frazier Quartet

240
Album Review

Colter Frazier Quartet: Colter Frazier Quartet

By

Sign in to view read count
Colter Frazier Quartet: Colter Frazier Quartet
Tucked away in Santa Barbara, California, tenor saxophonist Colter Frazier has been quietly creating a striking blend of new music that draws inspiration from myriad sources. The self-titled debut of Frazier's working quartet features Nick Coventry (viola, violin), Miles Jay (bass) and longstanding musical duet partner, Rob Wallace (drums) on an intriguing set of originals that seamlessly fuse chamber music, free jazz, minimalism and Eastern folk music traditions into a cohesive whole.

A tasteful and inventive composer, Frazier's writing tends toward the chamber-esque, with periodic interludes of turbulence and rousing rhythmic activity. He generates a kaleidoscopic array of textures and tones from his string heavy ensemble during the austere opening of "Lloyd's Prayer," which slowly builds to a coiled, throttling theme, while "Hopes of Reunification" slyly alternates restrained pointillism with hyperactive staccato interjections reminiscent of Anthony Braxton and Raymond Scott. "4 Days and 5 Months" and Miles Jay's "Flight School for Sparrow" draw on muscular modal forms and vibrant intensity, approaching Coltrane- esque levels of expressionism.

The quartet embraces a vast dynamic range; the somber dirge "Unknown Strain II" exudes sinewy sonorities and serene melodic arcs while "August Ballad" unleashes spasmodic free discourse filled with harsh angles and coarse edges. The episodic "Lonely Friday" reveals Frazier's expert skills as an arranger, while "1-22-07" demonstrates delicacy and nuance as the quartet plies a brisk regal miniature brimming with neo-classical majesty.

The ensemble's empathetic interpretations of Frazier's opulent tunes reveal a symbiotic rapport. Individual solo statements are effortlessly integrated into the overall fabric of each piece as communal expressions, which reach a fevered pitch on "Flight School for Sparrow," and introspective depth on "Where000."

Frazier's mastery of the tenor saxophone encompasses a vast range, from hushed overtones to coruscating multiphonics. His aesthetic inclinations are subservient to his compositional goals however; although capable of extreme dynamics, he is no mere pyrotechnician. Alternating soaring unison lines and thorny contrapuntal themes with Coventry, the pair veers from songbird like harmonies to terse sinewy lines fraught with dramatic dissonance.

Jay and Wallace eschew predictable swing in favor of inspired polyrhythms and colorful textural accents to support Frazier's multi-layered pieces. "Late Again" even hints at the driving early minimalism of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich while the modal ostinatos of "4 Days and 5 Months" and "Flight School for Sparrow" borrow harmonic elements from Middle Eastern traditions.

Frazier avoids conventional strategies for improvisation in his heady compositions, focusing his thematically direct works towards specific goals. The fully notated "Focus" closes the album on a telling note. A repeated bittersweet refrain from paired strings and tenor frames Wallace's percolating percussive commentary, ending the record on a harmoniously unorthodox note.

Arriving fully formed with a singular artistic focus, the Colter Frazier Quartet is a stunning debut, worthy of the highest praise.

Track Listing

Lloyd's Prayer; Hopes of Reunification; Where000; 4 Days and 5 Months; August Ballad; Late Again; Flight School for Sparrow; Unknown Strain II; Lunch with Osby; Lonely Friday; 1-22- 07; Focus.

Personnel

Colter Frazier: tenor saxophone; Nick Coventry: viola, violin; Miles Jay: bass; Rob Wallace: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Colter Frazier Quartet | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: pfMentum


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

The Way of the Groove
Ben Patterson
Incorporated
Skopje Jazz Inc.
Times Like These
Nica Carrington

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.