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Ben Rosenbloom: Lumina Jass

Jim Santella By

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In a kind of session that can be found quite regularly on the Los Angeles free jazz scene, Ben Rosenbloom directs a powerful program of improvised fun. The pianist swings with carefree abandon, turning on those little “light bulbs” of discovery above the listener’s head with each perky statement and with each spontaneous cascade of keys. His essence resembles what began with Monk, Bartok, Satie, and Jarrett. With bass and drums, he’s on fire with excitement.

Rosenbloom, who released his first album some twenty years ago, credits his teachers for the guidance that he’s received over the years. Jon Mayer and Terry Trotter have opened the session leader’s eyes and ears to a free scene that lets one follow his muse uninterrupted for as long as it takes to get it all in. Like Don Pullen, the pianist knows how to blend in the familiar with more “out there” magic.

He and Roberto Miranda and Bert Karl expand on “Stella by Starlight” for almost twenty minutes. They take a similar stretch on a lengthy blues improvisation that finds each artist breathing the same rhythms and communicating cohesively with his audience. Again, on a second interpretation of Bobby Bradford’s “Sho ‘Nuff,” the trio pulls out all the stops to give its audience nearly twenty minutes of creative, yet swinging, improvisation.

Miranda’s bowed bass remains a voice unmatched in jazz circles. He moans lyrically on extended solos and supports comfortably when working in ensemble. Karl’s multiple textures provide a spectrum through which the program can be viewed. With sticks on loose drum heads, he can lay down the walking gait of good old-time Kansas City blues; as he does on the quartet’s take of “Sho ‘Nuff.” Or, he can roll out percussive wake-up calls with precision, as he does on the more avant “Home Free.”

Cornetist Bobby Bradford joins the unit for three tracks. His veteran leadership inspires the others to loosen up. Moving fluently with a legato technique, he waves lyrical banners to steer the group’s free improvisation. Growling and wa-wa-ing, the flag-bearer of LA’s free jazz scene continues to produce needed growth in the field.

By choice, these four artists aren’t household names. They each prefer being with their families here in Los Angeles and living their music as they wish it expressed. You can catch them most weekends when you’re in town, or contact Rosenbloom by email.


Track Listing: Jump; Stella By Starlight; You Don

Personnel: Ben Rosenbloom- piano; Roberto Miranda- bass; Bert Karl- drums; Bobby Bradford- cornet.

Title: Lumina Jass | Year Released: 2004


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