8

Ralph Alessi: Imaginary Friends

Mike Jurkovic By

Sign in to view read count
Ever leading the avant-garde, trumpeter Ralph Alessi has never been pressed for future-forward ideas or the time to express them in whatever setting best suits the music. Not counting his prodigious work alongside such leading figures as Fred Hersch, Don Byron, and Steve Coleman, in this tumultuous century alone Alessi has led and released such challenging works as This Against That (RKM, 2002), the blazing Cognitive Dissonance (Cam Jazz, 2010) with Jason Moran, his ECM debut Badia (2013), and the equally adventurous yet reassuring Quiver (ECM Records, 2016).

Imaginary Friends furthers Alessi's working template: allow the music and the musicians of the moment to evolve within each others' conscious and unconscious frameworks, then capture it at just the right point of creative harvest. Reuniting the quintet with whom he recorded This Against That, Ravi Coltrane, Andy Milne, Drew Gress and Mark Ferber come together with nine compositions worked to fever pitch on a short European tour, making the music feel and sound ready for any unknown.

"Melee" is a careening example. It is ten prime, spiraling minutes of dueling, with Coltrane's sopranino and tenor saxophones both nimble and sagacious while Alessi pursues him, sobering yet no less wanton. With fiery punch and amped-up finesse, bassist Gress and drummer Ferber propel the piece like mad timekeepers, slippery and meteoric, akin to the kinetic zen of fellow ECM pianist Nik Bärtsch. The same can be said of Gress, Ferber, and pianist Milne (making his ECM debut) on the pulse-driven, craftily shape-shifting conversations that create "Improper Authorities."

The elegant weave of Coltrane's warm, flowering grace and Alessi's whispering subtleties make "Iram Issela" ("Imaginary Friends")'s earthy and introspective lead worth repeated listening. The duo have been friends and bandmates since the late '80s and can read each other like few other front lines. With haunting harmonics and prepared piano, "Oxide" and "Pittance" place Milne at the center of the Alessi/Coltrane alliance. "Fun Room" is a tumbling collage of the many rich ingredients each member of the quintet brings to this exquisite mix, and leads into to the ruminative and somber colors of the title track.

Track Listing: Iram Issela; Oxide; Improper Authorities; Pittance; Fun Room; Imaginary Friends; Around The Corner; Melee; Good Boy.

Personnel: Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Ravi Coltrane: tenor and sopranino saxophones; Andy Milne: piano; Drew Gress: double-bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Title: Imaginary Friends | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

At the Seams

At the Seams

Ralph Alessi
Look

Album Reviews
Radio
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends

ECM Records
2019

buy
Quiver

Quiver

ECM Records
2016

buy
Spun Tree

Spun Tree

Clean Feed Records
2013

buy
Only Many

Only Many

CAM Jazz
2013

buy
Baida

Baida

ECM Records
2013

buy
Enesco Re-Imagined

Enesco Re-Imagined

Sunnyside Records
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Sep3Tue
Ralph Alessi
Birdland Theater
New York, NY
Sep3Tue
Ralph Alessi
Birdland
New York, NY
Sep15Sun
Ralph Alessi & This Against That
Bop Stop
Cleveland, OH
$20
May15Fri
Ralph Alessi
Tivoli/vredenburg
Utrecht, Netherlands

Related Articles

Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019
Read Visions Album Reviews
Visions
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 18, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019