With Hot Box, bassist/composer Bruno Raberg and his quartet (Phil Grenadier on trumpet and flugelhorn, Allan Chase on saxophones and drummer Austin McMahon) have created a very, very cool and quite attractive modern jazz album that will stay in the ear for a long time.
"Cool" here means burning on a low heat, with lots of space, long lines and a silky, soft spoken delivery. Rather than demanding attention, this music requests it; but when attention is given the pull of the music is very strong. Its sound world has a way of feeling very large, a bit dangerous, but simultaneously inviting.
Grenadier and Chase have collaborated with Råberg for over a decade and hence are quite familiar with his compositional style. The album is paced very nicely: "Autumn Cycle," "Early Walk" and "Autumnal Ballad" can be easily grouped as having a more upbeat, lighter feel, which is, of course, moderated by the album's overall subversive undertone. Interspersed with these are "Hot Box," "Atmos," "Lost In The Attic," "Sirius B" and "Solace/Epilogue," ("Atmos" and "Sirius B" are edited collective improvisations), with all of them on the more somber and reflective side. "Lost In The Attic," it should be noted has some "hotter" sections that really stand out.
Maybe it comes from Råberg's Swedish heritage, but there is no getting around the low-angle-sun, crystal-clear-air- and-blue-sky, brooding-introspective feel of Hot Box. However, it should also be noted that throughout, there is a thread of intelligent optimism that is refreshing, and, oddly, relaxing.
Exceedingly engaging, Hot Box is music that has it all: intelligent clarity, inviting complexity and deep emotional layering. Highly recommended.
Autumn Cycle; Hot Box (97°F); Early Walk; Atmos; Lost in the Attic(Borta på Vinden); Autumnal Ballad; Sirius B; Solace/Epilogue.
Bruno Råberg: acoustic bass; Larry Grenadier: trumpet, flugelhorn; Allan Chase: soprano, alto & baritone saxophones; Austin McMahon.