The brightest development in jazz and new music in the United States and throughout the worldis the regular emergence of players and recording labels who are not bound by notions of commerce and mass appeal, but rather reflect the fact that the music continues to attract people who find new things to do with it.
Louie Records from Oregon has showcased thoughtful players from the Northwest who, as on these recordings, have taken standard formats and rethought them. Drummer Dave Storrs (he also plays keys) is the common thread on both of these quartet recordings and he is also the founder of the label. Both recordings are from 2005 and both beautifully complement the expanding catalogue of the label.
Swingd plays like a standard piano-bass-drums recording but once you're in the format the band and the writing start to veer off in playfully odd directions without ever losing the familiar textures. The perfectly named opener "Familiar has the feel of McCoy Tyner (or even the Coltrane sound without Coltrane) but over its 12 minutes the tune sways and dips and becomes somehow unfamiliar. Pianist Mark Bjorklund richly paints places in which he can improvise both on his own and as a lovely complement to the other players. Storrs has another drummer here - Mike Klobas - and the two make a sonic and rhythmic bass that truly lifts the compositions to a different plane.
Storrs and old friend violinist Rob Thomas create a true group jam setting on Time Share as they join with the brothers Sarpola - Dick on bass and George on percussion - for five extended group compositions/ improvisations. "It's Not Always Pretty as the first tune suggests, but the adventure and the true spirit of the group rein in some of the excesses and anarchy that this kind of playing might engender. These men are listening to each other and though the playing tends towards the outside, the players forge their own new structures to shape every tune. Storrs says in the notes, "...we went out to the studio and played for a few hours and in the title tune and all of the long tracks, you get just that sensefour simpatico players sharing a music making experience in which the time is never lost.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Piece 1; Piece 2; Piece 3.
Personnel: Dave Storrs: drums; Mark Bjorklund: piano; Mike Klobas: drums; Page Hundemer: bass.
Personnel: Dave Storrs: drums; Rob Thomas: violin; Dick Sarpola: bass; George Sarpola: percussion.