The opening track to drummer Jeff Cosgrove's third release under his own name is The Owl, listening to his composition brings to mind poet Carl Sandburg's words, "The fog comes/on little cat feet/It sits looking/over harbor and city/on silent haunches/and then moves on." The composition is not what you might expect from a drummer led recording. Then again Cosgrove is not your typical skins thumper. The music barely blows the curtains aside as it tiptoes in, heels raised, walking on the balls of it feet, obliging the listener to listen more closely.
His previous outing, Alternating Current (self-produced, 2014) was a mostly free improvised session with Matthew Shipp and William Parker where Cosgrove (like here) was content to function as a colorist and organizer. Certainly with players like pianist Frank Kimbrough and bassist Martin Wind, both skilled performers and leaders in their own right, herding is never required.
The remainder of the album finds two standards and four more originals. "Stack Of Stars" is a sort of blues, which opens with Wind's robust bass summons, followed by crashing notes. Cosgrove accents with cymbal and tom-tom while Kimbrough works through a two-handed mathematical solution. Even his solo opening on "Excitable Voices" is understated. Cosgrove is concerned here with melody and movement. "Forest Hunters" snaps to with Wind's bowed energy surge. Kimbrough chases up and down the keyboard and Cosgrove answers with flyby cymbals and skins. As Wind ventures further up the neck of his bass, the piece gets more displaced, accent and escort passed between players. The composition "The Shimmer" is a brief sketch (3:22) upon which this band certainly can build an improvisational workout. The disc teases us with its melody played over busy drumming and blitzing bass.
The two standards, "I Loves You Porgy" and "My Favorite Things" are the two gems here. Both are delivered with a kind of heavy-hearted sadness, the former with a drowsy beautiful emotion and the latter accenting more dog bites and bee stings than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. The trio reminds us of the Thelonious Monk quote, ""It's always night, or we wouldn't need light."
The Owls; Stacks Of Stars; I Loves You Porgy; Excitable Voices; Forest Hunters; My
Favorite Things; The Shimmer.
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