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Koptor by Canadian drummer Kevin Brow is in some ways similar to film noir at times overcast, others times bursts of vividness, flowing in music that is stylistically intriguing. But there is plenty of substance here with clarity and definition, imprinting music that incorporates detailed compositions and free invention.
Convincingly hip, thoughtfully astute, the music is the sound of modern jazz without its constraintsswing with and without the typical time signatures, unexpected solos in and out of the pocket and interlocking themes such as the "New Koptor" suite based upon Brow's geographical music influences from New York, Copenhagen, and Toronto.
With all original material Brow's music is expressed by an exceptional band, names synonymous with leadership in improvisational music: bassist Eivind Opsvik, pianist Jacob Sacks, and Rob Mosher on saxophone and English horn. Each brings something special to the table and serves up impressive performancesSacks' free flight spiral on "How Does Water Flow," Mosher's evocative alto sax in the dramatic "Jeg Gjorde Det I Forgars," or Opsvik's glutinous and sinewy bass throughout each piece.
An accomplished technician, yet one with heart and fire, Brow's drumming is the recording's pulse, one that oscillates within various lively patterns. With deft scissoring he provides not only the backbeat but also complex rhythms in "Maske I Overmorgen." On "Outer Spokes Center Hole," he navigates dual movements between straight and oblique lines as the music reinvents itself. A spotlight shines on Brow's trap work on the curtain call of "Kobs Mejkr," an intricate and developing drum solo that is richly detailed with several qualities while the band gradually builds upon the tune's mysterious path.
A rhythmic sweet spot can be found in "Underground," a tune girded by Opsvik's uncomplicated bass and Brow's stealthy cadence that gives Mosher and Sacks the freedom to explore new ideas. It is that fine qualitythe ability to become like elastic glue, stretching yet holding the musicthat makes Brow a noteworthy drummer.
Track Listing: Frograbbit; Maske I Overmorgen; How Does Water Flow; Outer Spokes Center Hole;
Underground; Imaginary Lines; Black Bear; Jeg Gjorde Det I Forgars;
First New Koptor; Second New Koptor; Third New Koptor; Kobs Mejkr.
Personnel: Kevin Brow: drums; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Jacob Sacks: piano; Rob Mosher: alto saxophone, English horn.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.