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Noah Kaplan Quartet: Descendants

Mark Corroto By

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Schooled at the knee of microtonal innovator Joe Maneri and supported by Maneri collaborator Joe Morris on his first release as a leader, saxophonist Noah Kaplan's Descendants is quite the auspicious debut.

Kaplan's music is an archeological dig that unearths the remains of mummified blues and early jazz—at least a well-preserved jazz sound once rediscovered by Ornette Coleman in 1959. Like the legendary saxophonist/composer's music, Kaplan writes unbalanced music that, thanks to Maneri, shifts through varied pitches, microtones, and destabilizing moods.

In this quartet setting, Kaplan's compositions are proffered by Morris' sympathetic guitar, drummer Jason Nazany (Little Women) and electric bassist Giacomo Merega, who also plays with Kaplan in the band Dollshot, and in trio with guitarist Marco Cappelli.

There's prejudiced sound heard here, one that refuses to pinpoint the music with a definition of western jazz pulse but does, though, favor a vulnerable and human sound. On "Esther," the quartet plays a teetering blues, with Kaplan's plaintive sound exhaling a sigh over the tracings of Morris and Merega's duet and Nazary's cymbal dancing.

Morris, whose recent sideman work has been on bass, confines his role here in service to Kaplan's plan, though he mostly addresses his remarks to Merega. "Rat Man" bounces through a multiple metered funk march, while "Wolves" acts as a terrarium where differing sounds are captured and reorganized, with Kaplan's soprano skirting the tapping drums, the plodding bass and Morris' circular pacing. All parts, maybe foreign to each other, are now forced to live in this new environment.

On the title track, the dynamo of this band—a sort of trance inducing parboil that churns, bubbles and catches the an occasional fire—allows for Kaplan's keening saxophone to speak with churlish notes, like a drunken storyteller. One that is quite impossible not to be entranced by.

Track Listing: Pendulum Music; Descent; Esther; Rat Man; Wolves; Untitled.

Personnel: Noah Kaplan: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Joe Morris: guitar; Giacomo Merega: electric bass; Jason Nazary: drums.

Title: Descendants | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Hatology

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