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Just Like This, Chicago-based saxophonist/composer Keefe Jackson's second recording as a leader for Delmark Records, is a vivacious, provocative musical statement featuring the 12-member collective, Project Project.
With hints of Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington, Jackson's compositions are ripe with thick chord clusters, swinging rhythms and jarring, yet lyrical melodies. Interspersed amongst orchestral flourishes and stand-out themes are free-flowing improvised sections, performed by Project Project's unique roster of bold, musical daredevils uninhibited by harmonic boundaries.
The animated, unaccompanied conversation between Trombonists Jeb Bishop and Nick Broste on the disc opener "Dragon Fly, the virtuoso tuba rumblings of Marc Unternährer on "The Grass is Greener and the sweetly defined intensity of clarinetist James Falzone on "Titled are wonderful examples of individualized statements by distinct musical voices contributing to the tightly-woven aesthetic fabric of the ensemble.
The title track, one of the session's more compositionally involved pieces, features meaty, hard-swinging solos by Jackson, trumpeter Jaime Branch and Falzone. "Wind-Up Toy, written by drummer Frank Rosaly, is sustained by tempo-shifting, tightly-colored chords and Jackson's boisterous, stand-out tenor shouts.
Rosaly and bassist Anton Hatwich are the unsung heroes of Project Project, anticipating the multi-directional pace of each soloist and intensifying the implicit mood of each piece. Rosaly's bombastic duet with Dave Rempis' alto saxophone on "Which Well is evidence of the drummer's shrewd, unrelenting musicality. Hatwich's raucous walking lines thrust the energetic pulse of "Wind-Up Toy.
The music on Just Like This is about as fresh as it gets. Jackson's unbounded spiritnurtured and propelled by his empathetic crewis tantalizing and infectious.
Dragon Fly; Grass Is Greener; Titled; Just Like This; Which Well; Wind-Up Toy.
Keefe Jackson: tenor sax, bass clarinet, composer; Josh Berman: cornet; Jaimie Branch: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Nick Broste: trombone; Marc Unternahrer: tuba; James Falzone: clarinet; Guillermo Gregorio: alto sax, clarinet; Dave Rempis: alto and baritone sax; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Anton Hatwich: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.