Change can occasionally be necessary for artistic growth. For over a decade, trombonist Joe Fiedler has led a stripped-down bass and drums trio, as documented on Plays The Music of Albert Mangelsdorff (Clean Feed, 2005), The Crab (Clean Feed, 2007), Sacred Chrome Orb (Yellow Sound, 2011), and I'm In (Multiphonics, 2015). Seeking a greater range of color and texture in his music, Fielder recruited vanguard saxophonist Jeff Lederer and multifaceted guitarist Pete McCann to join his current working trio with bassist Rob Jost and drummer Michael Sarin. Like, Strange, the debut of this new configuration, accomplishes Fiedler's goal, with rousing success.
Working with a larger instrumental palette, Fiedler utilizes the interpretive prowess of his new bandmates to expand the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic potential of his writing. Drawing on traditional forms, like boogaloo, tango, and waltz, as well as various Latin rhythms, Fiedler crafts open-ended arrangements that allow his sidemen to freely interpret his catchy tunes, by playing both inside and outside the changes. Lederer and McCannin particularadd a richly hued sound to the proceedings, and a previously unheard depth to Fielder's swinging compositions.
Jost and Sarin provide the frontline with a wide variety of infectious rhythms to navigate, but it's the fervent interplay between the two horns, and the guitarist's kaleidoscopic efx that elevates the session. "Maple Avenue Tango" features Lederer and Fiedler trading soulful lines over a sly groove, while the lush harmonies of "A Ladybug In My Notebook" demonstrate the ensemble's muscular lyricism. Conversely, the dynamic closer, "Yinz," showcases the group freewheeling in full flight. On the latter, McCann's angular cadences employ a heavily processed tonein contrast to the stylish, reverb-laden twang heard on the cinematic "Maple Avenue Tango," or the wah-wah infused psychedelic blues he unleashes on the funky title track. Buoyed by his sidemen's improvisational mettle, Like, Strange is anything but; Fiedler's first quintet effort is an exceptional offering, and his most fully realized album as a leader to date.
Go Get It; Maple Avenue Tango; A Ladybug in My Notebook; Like, Strange; E.T.
(For Eje Thelin); Guiro Nuevo; Tuna Fish Cans; Quasi...; Yinz.
Joe Fiedler: trombone; Jeff Lederer: tenor and soprano saxophones; Pete McCann:
guitar; Rob Jost: bass; Michael Sarin: drums.