Drummer Mike Reed returns with a Last Year's Ghost, this time featuring his band, Loose Assembly. The quintet, in existence for three years, has made a mark on the Chicago jazz scene. This is not surprising knowing what Reed has done and what he is capable of. His recordings, The Treehouse Project (482 Music, 1999) and a series of improvised duets, In The Context Of (482 Music, 2006), testify to Reed's distinctive imagination and innovative styling.
Loose Assembly came together in 2003 with cellist Tomeka Reid, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz and Reed. Later, altoist Greg Ward and bassist Josh Abrams joined in and the five opened the doors to free improvisation. Reed worked on the music that came out of that presence and the results have made it on to this CD. Eight of the tracks are credited to Reed, the other three are collaborative efforts.
The album impresses with its blend of the improvised and the composed. The former shows the rapport within the band as they converge on a synthesis of ideas after moving along different paths. The latter, often rich with melody, is invested with enough changes to make the experience vivid and vital.
Flowers rises in the wisp of notes that flow from the sax, the deep throb of the bass being bowed and the filigree of the cymbals. Form floats in the air before it dons a recognizable form that is earthy and blooms through the strong melodic fount that floats from Ward's alto. "Afterthoughts is another beautiful composition. Once again the tune is primed on a melody that nestles in the mind. Ward gives the melody extra depth taking it out of the mould yet caressing the contours. This is the prime cast for Reid, her cello now a rich consonance of the composition.
Collective improvisation and the thought processes of the quintet combust on "1974. It is under two minutes, yet full of trenchant inspiration. Proof that Reed writes lovely melodies comes once more on "Simone's Crumbs. This time around, Abrams works the spell with some arco as Adasiewicz adds light splashes of color.
Flowers; Day of the Dead; Old Souls; Afterthoughts; 1974; The Entire State of Florida; Exorcism; Simone's Crumbs; Temporary States; Ghost Writer; Dreaming With Jill.
Mike Reed: drums; Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibes; Tomeka Reid: cello; Josh Abrams: bass.