All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

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

Related Articles

Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Plus One CD/LP/Track Review
Plus One
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read "Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)" CD/LP/Track Review Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)
by Jim Olin
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House" CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Volume III: Magnetic Cycles" CD/LP/Track Review Volume III: Magnetic Cycles
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "The Hands" CD/LP/Track Review The Hands
by John Eyles
Published: February 12, 2018
Read "Roppongi" CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Transition" CD/LP/Track Review Transition
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 4, 2018