George Schuller: JigSaw

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
As an extension of his Schulldogs project, JigSaw finds drummer/composer George Schuller following somewhat in the third stream path of his father Gunther. With a group of players who double on so many instruments in order to provide a broad complexion of textures, Schuller comfortably blends free improvisation, new music and a surprising sense of swing for a recording that succeeds on many fronts.

While he plays on a little over half of the recording, the presence of violinist Mark Feldman is dominant, continuing to demonstrate why he is in such demand with groups including John Abercrombie’s current quartet and John Zorn’s Masada String Trio. With a free style that brings a clear sense of focus, he solos with unbridled passion, even while maintaining a firm direction through Schuller’s extended compositional forms.

Schuller uses the breadth of available instruments to maximum effect, often in surprising ways. Dave Ballou’s trumpet and Tony Malaby’s tenor may carry a motif, over which Feldman solos. When not playing trombone, Curtis Hasselbring’s Bailey-cum-Frisell-informed guitar musings provide a textured backdrop over which Ballou and Malaby solo concurrently. While free improvisation is the order of the day, it is most often over complex structures that range from the mildly funky “Tip Jar” and convoluted riff of “Ripe” to the out-and-out swing of “Punta d’Blues.”

Schuller and brother Ed on bass make a formidable rhythm team, easily traversing the Zorn-like organized chaos of “Band Vote” and “Band Vote (The Recount),” the relaxed yet compelling “Comeuppance,” and the lengthier “Tense Suite,” which is inspired by Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz , Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures and John Coltrane’s Ascension. Paying homage to three of the most important free recordings of the early ‘60s, Schuller manages to imbue the suite with a more modern post-new music sensibility, providing a richly varied vehicle over which Feldman can link the old with the new.

The material on JigSaw was recorded a number of years ago, one date in ’98 and the other in ’00. While the delay in this material seeing the light of day is curious, fans of free-wheeling music that is nevertheless rooted in firm compositional structure will be happy that 482 Music has finally released it. Combined with the 2002 live Schulldogs recording, Hellbent , and a 2003 post-Miles affair, Round ‘Bout Now , Schuller is emerging as a stylistically broad and challenging performer/composer/bandleader who deserves further attention from like-minded listeners.

Visit 482 Music on the web.

Track Listing: Ripe; Punta d'Blues; Band Vote; Distant Cousin; Tip Jar; Comeuppance; Tense (Suite) - Pre-Tense, Tension, Past Tense; Band Vote (The Recount).

Personnel: 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.

Title: Jigsaw | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: 482 Music


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Live At Maxwell's" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Maxwell's
by Budd Kopman
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "Magnetic" CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Groovin' Hard: Live at the Penthouse 1964-1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin' Hard: Live at the Penthouse 1964-1968
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 27, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.