Frequency Response's third outing is a study in diversity via a stylistic group sound that touches upon many genres. Cellist/tubaist Tom Abbs is the director of operations throughout a program that integrates chamber jazz, free jazz, and noise-shaping activities amid many other shades of Western song forms.
The group abides by a structured approach to the core compositional underpinnings, but partake in mini, cosmic meltdowns and bustling rhythmic metrics. It's a turbulent journey at times, where the majority of these works intersects and flourishes anew. Hence, the band embarks on a trek, consisting of cleverly devised harmonic movements atop polyrhythmic breakouts by drummer Chad Taylor and simmering sax parts by Brian Settles.
Violinist Jean Cook often engages in sonorous unison passages with Abbs and Settles, as they transmit a sense of urgency on pieces built upon investigative dialogues and whirling choruses. They cover the free bop spectrum during the medium-tempo jaunt "Tightrope," accelerated by Abb's booming and limber bass lines and Taylor's brisk drumming. However, the unit's multifarious executions take a U-turn on "Found," a persuasive melding of the Latin element with an endearing Far Eastern theme. Here, the musicians morph a lovely melody with a fiery improvisational element.
The single word song titles serve, perhaps, as a musical word association paradigm. No doubt, Abbs incites the pondering, within a particular mood or vibe, of whether the soloists lock horns and up the ante or delve into intricately enacted phrasings, topped off with subtle surprises.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.