George Schuller has moved from the basic quartet of his band The Schulldogs to fashion music for a conglomerate that moves from a quintet to a septet for this record. While the extra horns bring in a greater depth and extension, the addition of strings lends a serene presence. Together they add to the lure, and the call.
Schuller says that he had violinist Mark Feldman in mind for the three-part suite called "Tense." It is apparent why. Inspired by Free Jazz,Unit Structures and Ascension, the tune finds Feldman riding the registers of the violin assembling a musical visage that is sculptured in round tones and quick, sharp lines abetted by a touch of klezmer music. The horns change the structure as they move into more fractured territory, amid wail and yowl as Dave Ballou dissects the middle with the scalpel that is his trumpet. Then comes the cleave between Feldman and Howard Johnson on the bass clarinet, a close conversation that gives way for Feldman to twitter as the horns form a gentle curtain before drawing him into that mode.
Ed Schuller draws the blues on his bass when "Punta d'Blues" comes to play. The body is built gradually through the horns and a bit of swing. Schuller vocally urges his bass, the response coming in strong rhythmic structures, the momentum given the surge and daubs of colour by Tony Malaby on tenor and Ballou as they take turns and then collaborate on the ornate design. Punctuating the proceedings is Johnson's tuba.
What at first may appear disparate falls into place neatly, making this jigsaw a worthy experience.
Ripe; Punta d'Blues; Band Vote; Distant Cousin; Tip Jar; Comeuppance; Tense (Suite) - Pre-Tense, Tension, Past Tense; Band Vote (The Recount).
Dave Ballou: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Mark Feldman: violin (1, 2, 6, 7); Matt Dariau: clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone (1, 2-6, 8);Curtis Hasselbring: trombone and guitar (1, 5, 6); Howard Johnson: bass clarinet and tuba (2, 7); Ed Schuller: bass; George Schuller: drums, cymbals, bells, things you shake.