Over a fruitful career versatile soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has demonstrated a singular artistic voice and a restlessly explorative spirit. Since 2010 she has gone from the free flowing, edgy and electrifying Wingwalker (Outline 2010) to the serene and ethereal Sixteen Sunsets (Outline 2013) and now she presents the earthy and exuberant Early Americans. Her easily recognizable sound and facile virtuosity leave her indelible mark on all these recordings, making them each unique yet simultaneously integral parts of the same body of work.
The sparse trio setting makes First Americans simultaneously intimate and fiery with a primal spirituality permeating every piece. Bloom plays the melancholic melody that opens the stirring "Singing the Triangle" with reserved emotion and expressive eloquence. As the rumbling rhythms enter the spirited tune brims with joy laced with sadness. Bloom's improvisation thrills with its passion and its hints of delightful dissonance. Bassist Mark Helias handles his instrument with the agility of a guitarist. Superb acrobatics and exquisite lyricism mark his turn in the spotlight while drummer Bobby Previte thunders and gallops in the backdrop.
Previte's expectant thuds and Helias' pensive strumming create a dramatic ambience on "Mind Gray River." Bloom's contemplative and wailing saxophone stretches out in a poetic and intelligently inventive song. The three individual streams of consciousness coalesce into a perfectly crystalline and intriguingly otherworldly pastoral music.
Bloom fills her resonant, energetic refrains with a yearning, undulating mysticism on the gripping "Hips and Sticks." Her resonant tones and lithe lines weave a sensual sonic dance around her sidemen's hypnotic, gritty and roughhewn groove. Previte's frantic and magnificent polyrhythms usher in the concluding bars.
Previte and Helias lay down a funky beat with a soulful swagger for the more conventional "Big Bill." Bloom's lilting monologue meanders with fierce ardor and brilliantly creative ad-lib phrases. Helias takes a blistering solo that matches Previte's percolating percussion in alacrity and fervor.
Bloom succeeds once more to deliver a mature and one of a kind album. Its perfection does not minimize its thrilling spontaneity while Bloom's sublime extemporizations enhance the disc's compositional finesse. In summary Early Americans has, at once, a cerebral, esthetic and visceral appeal and is an example of a consummate artwork.
Song Patrol; Dangerous Times; Nearly (For Kenny Wheeler); Hips & Sticks; Singing the Triangle; Other Eyes; Rhyme or Rhythm; Mind Gray River; Cornets of Paradise; Say More; Gateway to Progress; Big Bill; Somewhere.
Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone; Mark Helias: bass; Bobby Previte: drums.
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