6

Brian Haas / Matt Chamberlain: Frames

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Brian Haas / Matt Chamberlain: Frames 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.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Royal Potato Family | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh" CD/LP/Track Review Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Jambú" CD/LP/Track Review Jambú
by Joe Gatto
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "1954" CD/LP/Track Review 1954
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "All My Treasures" CD/LP/Track Review All My Treasures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Ella Lives" CD/LP/Track Review Ella Lives
by Chris Mosey
Published: April 21, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!