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Steel Bridge Trio: Different Clocks

Mark Corroto By

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Heard at the imaginary music awards ceremony, "and the winner of the quietest and most accessible avant-garde recording of 2015 (dramatic pause), Different Clocks by Steel Bridge Trio." "Accepting the award for the trio is Jimmy Giuffre and Eric Dolphy.

If there were such awards, and certainly there should be, Chicagoan Tim Daisy would be recognized for his multi-tasking organizational skills. While holding down the drum chair in varied groups from those led by Ken Vandermark, Dave Rempis, and Russ Johnson, he performs solo and organizes several groups including Vox Arcana (with Fred Lonberg-Holm and James Falzone), Trio Red Space (with Mars Williams and Jeb Bishop, and this new band Steel Bridge Trio.

This trio, based in saxophonist Aram Shelton's hometown Oakland, California also features bassist Safa Shokrai, who writes scores for film and plays jazz, folk and punk/jazz/rock music. The Daisy/Shelton connection emanates from the six years the saxophonist lived in Chicago, recruiting the drummer into his quartet, and the brilliant (and now defunct) trio Dragons 1976. He is also a member of Jason Adasiewicz Rolldown and the cooperative sextet Fast Citizens.

Both Daisy and Shelton dabble in solo performance, utilizing what might be best described as the British tradition of free improvisation. They both invent new sounds, and unique ways to make those sounds. With that inside/outside grounding, the players here are dedicated, not to mayhem, but to Daisy's compositions. Pieces like "In Times Like These" which open with the squiggly alto solo and serrated bowed bass, and the urgency of "Scraps," both resolve themselves with the most gentle vibraphone work of Daisy. He is probably best known as a percussionist, but here and in Trio Red Space he has taken up the vibraphone, and in Vox Arcana, the marimba. It seems everything he plays is well, musical. These pieces reflect a mature composer and a sensitive player. Same for Shokrai and Shelton. Probably best known as a saxophonist, Shelton's bass clarinet work here compliments the pieces quite well. "Stone Trees" probably best describes this trio's sound. Gentle probing by bass clarinet in this chamber jazz piece before the twinkling of vibes and reverberating bass draw attention to the intense listening by each player. While performing the written score, the mindful trio is also present in each other's performance. This is brilliant stuff.

Track Listing: Different Clocks; Montrose; Scraps; Some See Hope; In Times Like Those; Stone Trees.

Personnel: Aram Shelton: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Safa Shokrai: bass; Tim Daisy: vibraphone, drums, compositions.

Title: Different Clocks | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Relay

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