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Brian Groder: Groder & Greene

Mark Corroto By

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Trumpeter Brian Groder has a talent for creating combinations of players to achieve certain musical outcomes. This instinct is especially important when the territory traversed is free jazz , where the mixtures of players are indispensable if the music is to be coherent. On Groder & Greene, the free jazz is indeed cogent and compelling.

This disc follows Torque (Latham Records, 2006), where Groder was paired with free jazz legend/octogenarian Sam Rivers. Here he invites Burton Greene, the Chicago jazzman turned 1960s avant-garde pianist to make music. Also heard is a who's-who of innovators, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, bassist Adam Lane, and drummer Ray Sage.

With eight group improvisation and just one composition, Greene's "Can You Thropt The Erectus?," the expectations might be for chaotic, shambolic music. But this music is nothing of the sort. The group interplay tends toward coherent statements and organized, at least for free improvisation, tracks. This band's music crystallizes into fully formed conceptions.

Greene's welcomed piano is playful, melodic, often plink-planking notes that grab the attention. The funky "Nigh" opens to the nodding pulse as the players each add their voice to the groove, playing the straight-man to the often comic one-liners passed between saxophone and trumpet. The piece seems to decompose with the dancing notes of Greene just as the locomotion halts and the music opens to the multiple possibilities. It's these interfaces that make this a complete album. Groder's muted trumpet glides over Sage's stuttering drum solo on "Surmised Wink" before Brown enters playing a tribute to Ornette Coleman. The band splits into combinations elsewhere, like "Amulet"—a piano/bass/drums trio more inside the piano, on the drum kit and over the bass strings—or, perhaps, the album highlight, a duo between Groder and Greene on "Cryptic Means," a stellar example of tension-and-release in free improvisation. Greene coaxes Groder, then cuts the current, turning the edge into reflection. It is pure magic.

Track Listing: Landfall; Only The Now; Seperate Being; Amulet; Cryptic Means; Nigh; Hey Pithy, Can You Thropt The Erectus?; Surmised Wink; Sleepwalker.

Personnel: Burton Greene: piano; Brian Groder: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rob Brown: alto saxophone; Adam Lane: bass; Ray Sage: drums.

Title: Groder & Greene | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Latham Records

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