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Elias Stemeseder / Devin Gray / Anna Webber: Jagged Spheres

Mark Corroto By

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The collective trio of Elias Stemeseder, Devin Gray, and Anna Webber ask you to separate the composed elements from the improvised on their debut release Jagged Spheres. The three soon-to-breakout players opt for a musical salmagundi here, filling their plates with minimalist improvisation, noisy thrashings, and organically grown interactions in this chamber jazz presentation.

The Austrian pianist Stemeseder has been featured in drummer Jim Black's trio and can be heard on his Somatic (Winter&Winter, 2012). He can also be heard on the critically acclaimed Percussive Mechanics (Pirouet, 2013) by Webber. Her saxophone and flute work lives in the gray area between jazz, contemporary composed and free music. The third member, drummer Devin Gray, is an expressive, lyrical player, not unlike Gerald Cleaver and Tom Rainey. His featured recording Dirigo Rataplan (Skirl Records, 2012) with Ellery Eskelin, Dave Ballou, and Michael Formanek is a mini- masterpiece.

This self-released recording opens with "Jaggedsphere," a quiet, minimalist improvisation. The three proceed in a subdued way, Gray with mallets, Stemeseder's piano notes squeezing out a half-life of echo and Webber's saxophone that is more breath than notes. Soon they shift gears into "For Erik," a full-throated plunge into stabbing chords and thunderous drums. The piece by Webber, reminiscent of drummer John Hollenbeck's work, threatens to collapse only to resolve itself with a structural logic.

The band often zigs when you might expect a zag here. Stemeseder's pieces "Health Bars" and "Nineeight" are more composed and structured, in that they are tied to a balanced and proportional arc. The one composition here by Gray, "Getting Hit Off My Bike, By A Nice Cab Driver At 3:33am In Williamsburg," is a short-story musical adventure. Clocking in at over 20 minutes, the piece plays like a soundtrack to a film about, well, the pain of a bicycle accident.

Track Listing: Jaggersphere; For Erik; Health Bars; Tow And A Half; Getting Hit Off My Bike, By A Nice Cab Driver At 3:33am In Williamsburg; Two; Nineeight.

Personnel: Elias Stemeseder: piano; Devin Gray: drums, melodica; Anna Webber: flute, tenor saxophone.

Title: Jagged Spheres | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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