The respective artists are firmly rooted in the modern vanguard of experimentation, improvisation and countless offshoots of the jazz vernacular. However, A-list bassist John Hébert is also a veteran of many modern/progressive jazz sessions but, as evidenced here, is also comfortable exploring the outside realm. Hence, the musicians dish out a rather somber and stoic chamber-jazz program amid fragile underpinnings and a slowly-paced gait with asymmetrical pulses and blossoming mini-themes. In addition, Mat Maneri's extended viola choruses assist with steering the band from one smooth transition to another, very much steeped in semi-structured methodology, with leanings toward the free zone.
Several passages spark notions of a divine contemplation gathering, where conversations become placid and emotive. Yet, on the piece inspired by the late, great drummer Paul Motian, simply titled "Motian," the quartet captures the essence of the drummer's rhythmic musicality, where drummer Randy Peterson's pecking drum hits atop Lucian Ban's circular piano phrasings and Hébert's bowed bass patterns, evolve and diffuse the primary trajectory. The bassist's deep lines, with Peterson's subdued toms and cymbals treatments, signal a state of bliss, intersected by Maneri's streaming notes as the band works through temperate passages. Moreover, they raise the pitch in spots via Ban's concise chord progressions to consummate a relatively ominous vibe.
Various discourses pose a solemn and reflective mindset. Consequently, there are no pieces that aim to knock your socks off, largely from an impact perspective. Yet the music demands some degree of concentration from a listener. Indeed, the improv element is a perpetual force along with the respective musicians' occasional injections of wry or off-kilter accents, although the tonal uniformity on a per-track basis may not be everyone's taste or preference.
Mojave; 51 Sorrows; Red Seven; Motian; Two Hymns; Losed; Last Steps; Retina; Dust.
Mat Maneri: viola; Lucian Ban: piano; John Hébert: bass; Randy Peterson: drums.
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