Bassist James Ilgenfritz, it would seem, has been doing everything right in New York. He's been playing a lot, recording and organizing concert series at the downtown Elixir Smart Bar and The Tank in midtown. In a few years, the young player has built something of a community around him, which is what musicians in New York need so much and often don't find. So what might be a good career move is a bit of a loss to the city. Ilgenfritz has packed up and followed that strange recent call to San Diego.
It's a shame, because Ilgenfritz might have been (and might still one day be) a different voice for the NYC improv scene. As evidenced on his trio record with saxophonist Jonathan Moritz and drummer John McLellan, Ilgenfritz has a rare sense of sparsity and silence without sacrificing the organic feeling of his playing. The whole trio, in fact, is deceptive in their structure and tonalities. Rather than playing for irony or deconstruction, they play slow but warm music. McLellan can suggest speed while playing at a snail's pace and Moritz can invoke Sonny Rollins in a scattered phrase. The nine tracks are seemingly without theme or solocertainly without rousing barnstormyet are enjoyably non-obtuse. The disc itself, nicely folded into an attractive paper cover, is limited to 550 copies.
The 11 tracks on the Sound Infusion collection suggest a new angle on community, a slightly different take created by Ilgenfritz the curator. He appears on four tracks, including a lovely solo piece and an unexpected trio with Steve Swell (trombone) and Chris Peck (electronics). Also included are a great Jessica Pavone/Mary Halvorson violin/guitar duet, a loose swing from Dealbreaker (with Aaron Ali Shaikh on saxophone) and a Reuben Radding/Daniel Carter duo. Many likely missed Ilgenfritz during his New York tenure. Let's hope for a speedy return.
Personnel: Jonathan Moritz; John Mclellan; James Ilgenfritz
Personnel: Reuben Radding; Daniel Carter; Jessica Pavone; Mary Halvorson; Steve Swell; Nate Wooley; Mike Pride; James Ilgenfritz; and others.
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