Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

164

Ken Wessel, Ken Filiano & Lou Grassi: Jawboning

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Matriculation from sideman to frontman can be a stressful process. Guitarist Ken Wessel makes the long due move with aplomb. A short string of CIMP dates supporting saxophonist William Gagliardi and violinist Sam Bardfield, as well as a long-standing slot in Ornette Coleman's Prime Time band, solidified the clout. Wessel chose Lou Grassi, his colleague in the Gagliardi group, and the drummer in turn suggested the participation of bassist Ken Filiano.

Wessel's easygoing, unassuming approach jibes well with the conversational colloquialism of the disc's title. He's never averse to taking his time; even when his partners slip into accelerated clips, his patterns have an unflappable air about them. In relative tone and attack he reminds me of a more methodical Joe Morris, circa say Flip and Spike , sculpting nimble chains of nickel-plated notes and spectral tonal slides, usually tagged as quivering codas to the ends of runs.



At first glance Grassi might not seem the best choice for such a date. He's renowned as a muscular, even stentorian drummer, one who crackles with energy, but isn't the best at being bottled by slower, less effusive settings. His work here tosses a stick in the mechanism of that sort of hair-splitting thinking. But he still finds occasional space for his patented tumbling mudslide solos, as during the closing minutes of the title cut, building a frothing barrage of stickplay that Filiano shears into with sharpened bow. The bassist spins his usual pizzicato and arco legerdemain, serving as supple harmonic cantilever and pacing his strings through a strenuous regimen of rigors.



A modest clutch of originals along with a pair of standards caps with a melodically ripe collective improvisation. On "Behind the Mirror"? Wessel shapes soft reverb-coated notes that ripple like windchimes. Filiano's threaded lines are brilliantly cast in resplendent melancholy. Grassi's restraint on small percussion keeps the piece rooted in contemplative reverie, eventually twisting inward into a tightly wound groove built on bent notes and bowed counterpoint. "Sunset"? finds Wessel working out of a lithe fusion orientation with coruscating tonal ornamentations reminiscent of John Abercrombie or mellower Mahavishnu-era McLaughlin.



Saxophonist Chris Kelsey (a fellow CIMP artist) recently stated that he enjoys retooling standards so they sound unequivocally like originals. Wessel adopts a similar tactic, equipping the trio's initial reading of the calcified chestnut "I Remember You"? with an extended preface of floating arpeggios and sliding glisses all rendered with a gelidly limpid tone. "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise"? receives a similar revisionist treatment as the three negotiate a series of oblique harmonic permutations only tangentially tethered to the tune proper. Filiano sets up a whirring arco sawmill and Grassi grafts a choppy ulterior cadence, leaving Wessel to engineer, on-the-fly, one of the best solos of the session.



Creative improvised music is a crowded place these days, with plenty of new players cropping up and older ones jockeying for more prominent positions. With all the activity it's hard to keep track. But based on this auspicious debut my money says Wessel is one to watch.

Track Listing: I Remember You/ Jawboning/ Behind the Mirror/ Softly as in a Morning Sunrise/ Sunset/ Collectivity/ Diminutive Innuendos.

Personnel: Ken Wessel- guitar; Ken Filiano- bass; Lou Grassi- drums. Recorded: September 9 & 10, 2004, Rossie, NY.

Title: Jawboning | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: CIMP Records

Tags

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.

Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Port Of Call

Port Of Call

NoBusiness Records
2017

buy
Live At The Knitting Factory Volume 1

Live At The Knitting...

Porter Records
2011

buy
Live At The Guelph Festival

Live At The Guelph...

Cadence Jazz Records
2007

buy
The Dope And The Ghost

The Dope And The Ghost

Not Two Records
2007

buy
 

Infinite POtential

CIMP Records
2007

buy
 

Shapes and Shadows

Clean Feed Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Caldera / Sky Islands Album Reviews
Caldera / Sky Islands
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 25, 2019
Read Baby, Please Come Home Album Reviews
Baby, Please Come Home
By Doug Collette
May 25, 2019
Read Reckless Heart Album Reviews
Reckless Heart
By Doug Collette
May 25, 2019
Read Fire Brigade Album Reviews
Fire Brigade
By Phillip Woolever
May 25, 2019
Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019