Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

6

Brian Haas / Matt Chamberlain: Frames

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
It is not often an album confounds expectations to the degree that Frames does. And confounds them not just once but twice.

The first expectation arises from the players' histories. Brian Haas is best known for his work with Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, the spectacularly trans-genre band which the pianist co-founded twenty years ago. Drummer Matt Chamberlain has worked with neo-classicists such as pianist Brad Mehldau and guitarist Bill Frisell, but is better known for his recordings with beyond-jazz artists such Critters Buggin' and keyboardist Marco Benevento.

So it is a surprise to discover that Frames is a through-composed suite which Haas conceived as a solo keyboard exercise progressing methodically through the sequence of tempered keys.

The second expectation, therefore, is that the album, though it might be musicianly and academically worthy, will be austere and dull, dull, dull. Chopin composed keyboard exercises which shimmered, but composers with Chopin's genius do not come along often.

So it is a surprise to discover that Frames is tuneful and fun, fun, fun. Haas' themes (to call them "exercises" unfairly reduces them) take in lush romanticism, stride piano and minimalism, and the hotter ones are played with gusto. As Haas acknowledges, much of the music's success as a performance piece is down to Chamberlain's input. Chamberlain turned "turned skeletons into sentient beings," says Haas, "(giving) each piece its own personality and color." Together, the duo work through the eleven, often forceful pieces in perfect accord. Chamberlain does not match Haas note for note throughout, but there are many passages of up-tempo unison fireworks and they are as thrilling to listen to as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie delivering a tricky bop theme in precise unison. At lower temperatures the mood is bittersweet-romantic and may put you in mind of singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley.

Haas wrote Frames following his move from the bustle of Tulsa to the mountains and high desert around Santa Fe. It was, perhaps, his way of centering himself amidst the enormity of the natural world newly surrounding him. If so, what began as a meditation has turned into an entertaining romp.

Track Listing: Birth; Open Windows; Death: An Introduction; Prism; Of Many, One; Niche; Drive; Death: An Observation; Closing Window; An Empty House; From Nothing, Infinite.

Personnel: Brian Haas: piano; Matt Chamberlain: drums, percussion. Additional musicians: Peter Tomshany: guitar; Costa Stasinopoulos: synths, programming; Chris Combs: synths.

Title: Frames | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Royal Potato Family


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Cycles of Animation CD/LP/Track Review Cycles of Animation
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Secret Passages CD/LP/Track Review Secret Passages
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Live At The Magic Triangle CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Magic Triangle
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Music in the Room CD/LP/Track Review Music in the Room
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Of Light and Shadows CD/LP/Track Review Of Light and Shadows
by Phillip Woolever
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Karoujite" CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Life. Love. Flesh. Blood." CD/LP/Track Review Life. Love. Flesh. Blood.
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "Triangulum" CD/LP/Track Review Triangulum
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "Triple Double" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Rome" CD/LP/Track Review Rome
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Dedication" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!