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Chicagoan double bassist Jason Roebke has developed a distinct sound of his own, intensely physical, audacious and highly rhythmical. He leads and plays in bands on both sides of the Atlantic, including the trans-Atlantic The Whammies dedicated to the music of Steve Lacy, and drummer Mike Reed's People, Places and Things.
Roebke's debut recording of his new quartet Combination introduces an alien sonic variable into the well-tested equation of the post-bop, free jazz trio. Roebke, who played before in the electro-acoustic trio Tigersmilk (with Rob Mazurek on cornet and electronics) adds the modular synthesizer of Brian Labycz, acting as weird generator of percussive sounds, melodic foil and overall wild card. This inventive employment of the vintage synth challenges the quartetthe articulate Greg Ward on alto sax, Roebke on bass and the fantastic Frank Rosaly on drumsto restructure its rhythmical and muscular interplay and contain the provocative, noisy attacks of Labycz.
The first six pieces were recorded live at the Hideout club in Chicago and the remaining three are bonus pieces available on the digital version of the album. Roebke's pieces encourage freedom. Labycz adds a constant element of risk and uncertainty that enriches the immediate interaction. He forces the quartet to reshape its compositional syntax, open its rhythmic interplay and embrace his dissonant additions. Ward, Roebke and Rosaly respond fast to Labycz's sonic interventions, reassembling the compositional elements and shifting the pulse around the otherworldly sounds. On a few of the pieces (e.g. "Ballad" or "Toronto") the quartet sound as four individuals improvising on their own independent ideas but slowly these different strategies find a loose common ground and cohesive framework.
Throughout this wild ride Combination maintains its sonic identity as a fiery unit based on addictive grooves, even in its most dissonant or lyrical moments.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.