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Rent Romus: Deciduous/Midwestern Edition Vol. 1

Glenn Astarita By

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This West Coast USA experimental record label always spreads its wings. Part of the fun is anticipating what comes next. Here, label head and distinguished multi-reedman Rent Romus and musical associates pay homage to the avant-garde jazz spirit of the Midwest, citing the birthplace for AACM and innovators such as Albert Ayler, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. Romus also advises in the press release that this is an ongoing project as the album title would indicate.

Most of these works are created with expressive and spirited horns choruses, climactic solos, world groove percussion parts and latter-day John Coltrane type extravaganzas. With hints of melody, bopping and swarming percussion intervals, the band also integrates frenetic dialogues, but one of several rewarding attributes is that they use space to instill openness, used as gateways for exploration. Basically, the ensemble doesn't always rush its course of action, yet this doesn't infer that it's a lightweight affair.

The occasional use of a Wurlitzer electric piano injects a sense of antiquity into various tracks, along with faint nods to Miles Davis' electric period, although this unit sports more of an untamed or freer approach. The musicians seemingly read each other's minds during many of the improvisations and move onward with a sense of purpose. Whereas, certain tracks are built with scrappy, and loosely developed plots, enriched with worldly modalities and extended soloing spots by the hornists.

"Simo-casting" features a similar world music/tribal progression vamp heard on "Hammer Forge," but when considering the album clocks in at 77:25, this track could have been removed from the mix without any significant consequences. Although "The Dream Imagined" features the three-man horn section delving into a World Saxophone Quartet mindset amid an interesting counter-movement with multilayered sounds and James Cornish's solemn baritone horn lines. Indeed, it's an attractive orchestral and mutable etude with an off-kilter pulse, as the ensemble doesn't dwell in narrow pathways or bide its time by blowing the roof off the studio. More importantly, Romus and company fuse diversity with bold ideas and evocative solos to complement the disparate currents and their irrefutable fellowship.

Track Listing: Presencing; Skyboat Gliding; Hammer Forge; Shell Games; The Restless Seldom Get Weary; Simo- casting; Within the Time; The Dream Imagined; Margus Fargus.

Personnel: Rent Romus: alto, soprano saxophones, flutes, small percussion; Hasan Abdur-Razzaq: alto, tenor saxophones, bells; James Cornish: trumpet, baritone horn; Gerard Cox: drums, piano (1,11, Wurlitzer (8); Caleb Miller: piano (4,8,10) Wurlitzer (9), Nord (3); Steve Simula: percussion, flutes, bells, drums (11); John Phillip Allen: double bass.

Title: Deciduous/Midwestern Edition Vol. 1 | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Edgetone Records

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