6

Michael Thomas: Event Horizon

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
Michael Thomas: Event Horizon
Jimmy Katz seems to really be onto something with his Giant Step Arts label. Begun in 2018, the label has established a tradition of recording live performances by modern jazz musicians given complete freedom of repertoire and personnel. That approach has produced several outstanding releases including, earlier this year, The Concert: 12 Musings For Isabella, (Giant Step Arts, 2020) by trumpeter Jason Palmer, who also appears on the label's latest release, this time as a sideman for alto saxophonist Michael Thomas.

Thomas and Palmer are captured live in a loose, swashbuckling quartet with Hans Glawischnig on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. Thomas' alto has a soulful, freewheeling sound. Like Ornette Coleman and Oliver Lake he can be both exploratory and earthy at the same time. Jason Palmer, meanwhile, plays Don Cherry to Thomas' Coleman, blowing bubbly, high-wire acrobatics in contrast to the alto's intense heat. They take their time building solos. Thomas often starts quietly and ripples into high-register flights while Palmer answers him with smears, stutters and brash calls to arms. With Glawischnig and Blake stoking the fire underneath, the group creates a swaying, seductive flow of rapturous music.

The quartet plays passionately in all manner of tempos and settings. On "Dr. Teeth" the rhythm section stalks with a creeping bass pulse and New Orleans flair on the drums while Palmer struts and Thomas dances. "Drift" rolls out slower and cooler with the horns lazily stretched out on the melody. Thomas blows long, graceful lines like Lee Konitz, gradually getting faster as the tempo increases and Blake's drum rolls intensify. "Chant" has the horns rolling together over a bumpy pulse and "Underground" moves at a slow, seductive pace on a melody that resembles John Coltrane's "Equinox," trumpet and alto quietly surging and singing in unison as Blake rumbles on his drums.

"Event Horizon" is a relatively compact mood piece with the horns playing an ominous long-toned melody that could soundtrack a movie scene of a rocket traveling through space. Thomas and Palmer play closely together over Blake's mallet work and Glawischnig's arco bass before scampering into a quiet, bluesy dialogue. On "Fox and Cat" everyone relaxes and has double-time fun with classic bebop rhythms.

This set is explosive and compelling. Michael Thomas' blistering alto sound plays perfectly off Jason Palmer's soaring trumpet while the Glawischnig-Blake rhythm team give them outstanding support. This is small group jazz of the highest quality, imaginative, fiery and powerful. It is also, amazingly enough, just Michael Thomas' second recording as a leader. He sounds like a major force to follow and this volcanic concert is one of the year's best recordings.

Track Listing

Disc One: Distance; Drift; Bass Intro; Dr. Teeth; Framework. Disc Two: Sax Intro; Chant; Underground; Drum Intro; Event Horizon; Fox and Cat.

Personnel

Michael Thomas: saxophone, alto; Jason Palmer: drums; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Album information

Title: Event Horizon | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Giant Step Arts

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read How To turn the Moon
How To turn the Moon
Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell
Read The Path
The Path
Chien Chien Lu
Read Golden Daffodil
Golden Daffodil
Leslie Beukelman
Read Message from Groove and GW
Message from Groove and GW
The Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band
Read Hard Bop
Hard Bop
Eric Binder
Read Duos & Trios
Duos & Trios
Armaroli - Schiaffini - Sjostrom
Read How Can We Wake?
How Can We Wake?
Josephine Davies
Read Blue Has A Range
Blue Has A Range
Steve Cardenas

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.