It took millions and millions of years of evolution to produce dinosaurs that weighed 40 tons. Who'd have thunk it possible that those creatures are the ancestors of modern birds? Same consideration might be applied to the trio Heart & Minds. That is, if you're not into the whole creationist jazz scene. Some of those dinosaurs appeared to be a bizarre patchwork of feathers, armor, and teeth. Really big teeth. But there was an internal logic to these evolutionary adaptations, as there indubitably is with the trio of bass clarinetist Jason Stein, keyboardist Paul Giallorenzo, and drummer Chad Taylor.
The music on Electroradiance, the follow up to the trio's 2016 self-titled debut, exemplifies a radical acceleration of musical adaption and natural selection. We hear music played by a myriad assemblage of instrumentation and styles. By now, you might be accustomed to Stein's bass clarinet leading his self-titled quartet and Locksmith Isidore. But then, and this is where the armor plating and feathers come in, Hearts & Minds marries Stein's woody sound with funk, rock, electronics, and free jazz. Opening with a swampy synth-bass line, Giallorenzo then adds an electric piano dance around Taylor's pulse, all in service of Stein's aeronautics. Taylor who replaced now ex-pat Frank Rosaly in the trio, is well versed in these affairs, having powered various Chicago Underground ensembles with Rob Mazurek and more recently Jaimie Branch's Fly Or Die and the tremendous duo with James Brandon Lewis. He doesn't shy aways from dance and rock beats, muscling the pulse on "Step'n" with an additional pulse from Giallorenzo, who marches in step with Stein, before the composition transitions into some bebop. If you're thinking Sun Ra, you'd be correct. The title track comes straight from El Saturn Research laboratories with scorched circuits and blips, as the members skate the very edges of their instruments. In a blink of an eye (or did a millennia pass?) "Shreveport" evolves into a Promethean New Orleans march accented with a deep bass line, and the simple melody bleeds into a continuous outward path.
Stein has established himself as a major player with his atypical instrument, and with Hearts & Minds, his musical DNA pairs effortlessly with the Darwin blender effect of this music.