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Darius Jones, Mara Rosenbloom, Christian McBride, Tom Harrell & Leon Parker

Martin Longley By

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The Darius Jones Quintet/The Mara Rosenbloom Trio
Ibeam
June 13, 2016

This appealing double bill made a Monday night visit to Ibeam a certainty, even if only for a select-sized audience. This musician-orientated room in the Gowanus part of Brooklyn is completely dedicated to the activity of performance, without a bar, or snack hatch, reminiscent of The Stone in Manhattan. The stage, or rather, the far floor-corner, is surrounded with acoustic baffles that add to the excellence of this haunt, which is a converted factory space, with suitably sturdy iron door.

The Mara Rosenbloom Trio opened, with the pianist leader joined by Adam Lane (bass) and Chad Taylor (drums). Her particular approach could be defined as free blues, matching open improvisation with a rootsy series of chords, sometimes even drifting into gospel waters. Her determinist riffing piled up the visceral thrills, gradually developing a running logic, but still open to arrhythmia and open patches of pause. Her jangly looseness would always land on a sharp point of emphasis, no matter how wayward the course was becoming, resolution was always attained. Lane's singing bass and Taylor's pattering drums even made a suggestion of South African township music, another gospel variant. Rosenbloom inhabited the outer regions, but her adventures were grounded in instinctively pleasing rifflets, hints of traditional music unbound.

Alto saxophonist Darius Jones operated within a 'traditional' jazz improvisation frame, if his quintet's sonic extremities could ever be deemed 'traditional.' The works presented were penned by Jones himself, but sounded so spontaneous in their expression that surely the composer allows much free rein for his conduits. These vessels were Ben Gerstein (trombone), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Michael Bisio (bass) and Jason Nazary (drums). The pace was extremely sluggish at first, making a very deliberate progress, all three horns strongly sustained in tandem, with a clarion call simultaneity. Stein took a blurting gobble of a solo: hoarse, charged, yelping, squealing and growling. This was followed by a spectacular 'drain-cleaning' solo by Gerstein, perversely vibrating with his trademark inserted device, which sounds like a reed, or even a leaf, buzzing with an unholy power. Then it was the leader's turn, squalling at treble topmost, developing an Albert Ayler styled chanting repeat. There were only two pieces, but it wasn't quite clear where the divide lay, and not so necessary anyway, given the heightened personalities of these artists.

Christian McBride's New Jawn
Blue Note
June 14, 2016

Bassman Christian McBride's New Jawn quartet makes reference to a Philadelphia slang term that appears to have an infinite number of interchangeable meanings. This is a new-ish, and sporadically appearing horn-led team, without a piano, which immediately makes for a harder, pushier post-bop sound. This crew slams hard, racing through their repertoire with a clambering eagerness to whip out the next solo display. This second set on the first night of their six-day Blue Note residency already found them in superb shape.

Opening with Thelonious Monk's "Raise Four," trumpeter Josh Evans jumped straight in with a flaring blaring, trumpet solo, repeatedly pausing before letting fly a fiery blast. Marcus Strickland's following tenor solo was calmer and cooler, a winning strategy when chasing a particularly extroverted statement. Nasheet Waits kept his drums rolling and detonating, as Strickland streaked in the blues, slowly heating up. McBride sent things suddenly softer with his own solo, littered with drum punctuations. Soon, he was left completely alone, making micro-slides along his strings, thrumming gently, capable of some of the most subtly detailed bass dexterity we're ever likely to witness. McBride's gestures are grander than those of mere mortals!

The second number was Larry Young's rarely aired "Obsequious," the be-bop granite continuing its slippery-skating progress, with tenor, bass and drums at full tilt. Then, the Jawn switched shape to a trumpet- led trio, slowing, amassing spaciousness, but this horn also became enraged before too long, as Waits hit out with an extremely powerful drum solo. Evans himself provided the next tune, a ballad, simply titled "Ernie Washington," closely chased by the livelier "Arboretum," penned by Tony Williams. Strickland picked up his soprano, and Evans was developing a penchant for inserting the microphone in his bell.

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