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Bruno Råberg Quartet with Phil Grenadier, Allan Chase and Austin McMahon: Hot Box

Karl Ackermann By

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Bassist Bruno Råberg and trumpeter Phil Grenadier had previously offered a brilliant duo collection with the 2012 Plunge (Orbis Music) and here—under Råberg's leadership—expand to a quartet formation for the equally imaginative Hot Box. The collection features compositions both by the Swedish born Råberg and group improvised pieces. Unlike the Råberg/Grenadier duo outing, the leader's electronic sound design gives way to the more organic setting of the quartet on this collection.

Joining Råberg and Grenadier are saxophonist Allan Chase and drummer Austin McMahon. Chase has worked with drummer Rashied Ali and composers Gunther Schuller and John Zorn among others. McMahon has been regular member of Jerry Bergonzi's Quartet and has worked with saxophonists Joe Lovano and George Garzone as well as guitarist Ben Monder. Råberg has led a number of groups including his Lifelines Quartet that included saxophonist Chris Cheek. Grenadier has appeared more than fifty recordings including works by pianists Marc Copland and Kenny Barron and saxophonist Chris Potter.

The opening "Autumn Cycle" and "Early Walk" are fine blends of composition and improvisation. Råberg's deep, resonant bass and McMahon's refined touch, drive the latter piece through excellent exchanges between Grenadier and Chase. "Atmos" and the title track (with a suffix of '97°F') are experimental and avant-garde, respectively. "Lost in the Attic (Borta på Vinden)" alternates between dream-like and jagged passages, touches of swing, along with highly improvised individual performances. "Autumnal Ballad" features beautiful extended solos from Råberg, Chase and Grenadier while "Sirius B" features rich contribution from Chase on baritone sax. "Solace/Epilogue" closes out Hot Box with spare and but sumptuous performances from each member of the quartet.

The collaboration between Råberg, Grenadier, Chase and McMahon is one that warrants high acclaim for all. The repertoire is an eclectic blend of modern jazz and beyond; melodically original and creatively enterprising. The improvised pieces are free of the kind of confused fumbling around that can occur in these settings and the more structured pieces are superbly crafted and flexible enough to provide the players with freedom to stretch. Hot Box is well worth repeated listening.

Track Listing: Autumn Cycle; Hot Box (97°F); Early Walk; Atmos; Lost in the Attic(Borta på Vinden); Autumnal Ballad; Sirius B; Solace/Epilogue.

Personnel: Bruno Råberg: acoustic bass; Larry Grenadier: trumpet, flugelhorn; Allan Chase: soprano, alto & baritone saxophones; Austin McMahon.

Title: Hot Box | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Orbis Music

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