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Samuel Blaser: Consort in Motion

Dan McClenaghan By

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There is something positively celestial about Consort in Motion. It's like listening to a soundtrack of the workings of a Jovian planetary system: a substantial mass in the middle (Samuel Blaser's trombone), orbiting moons and scatterings of interplanetary debris (bass and drums); and flashes and sparkles twinkling off of space dust (piano), with things making sense in the milieu of a sonic version of planetary physics.

Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser leads Consort in Motion, but there is an egalitarian mood on this spacious sound experience. Paul Motian—who came to the fore in terms of profile in the late fifties and early sixties with pianist Bill Evans, most notably on Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside Records, 1961)—continues to elevate any musical situation to which he contributes, whether in Augusto Pirodda's No Comment (Jazzwerkstatt, 2011), Anat Fort's A Long Story (ECM Records, 2007), or here, on Blaser's third stream jazz brew. Striking skins or metal discs with a stick or brush seems such a simple thing, but Motian makes sounds in this effort that are unlike that of any other drummer—intricate percussive orchestrations, subtle off-kilter mini-symphonies inside the overall sound that, given a careful listen (to the exclusion of the rest of the band's input) seem as if they couldn't possibly fit within the music at hand. But his contributions—though they may seem, in isolation, ill-fitting—serve unerringly to accentuate.

The background of this particular CD—Blaser's fifth as a leader—can make things sound a bit heavy. The trombonist is conservatory-trained, and he has put this classical knowledge to work on Consort in Motion, interpreting the compositions of 17th Century Italian composers Claudio Monteverdi, Girololamo Frescobaldi and Biagio Marini. But a knowledge of those composers or Baroque music in general isn't a prerequisite for the appreciation or enjoyment of Consort in Motion. It is a spacious music, oddly majestic, revealing its beauty at a measured, graceful pace.

Track Listing: Lamento della Ninfa; Reflections on Piagn'e Sospira; Reflections on Toccata; Passacaglia; Ritornello;Si Dolce e l'Tormento; Balletto Secondo--Retirata; Reflections on Vespro della Beata Vergine; Ritornello; Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria--Atto Quatro, scene II.

Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone; Russ Lossing piano; Thmoas Morgan: bass; Paul Motian: drums.

Title: Consort in Motion | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Kind of Blue Records

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