Roger Mas 5tet: Mason

Phil DiPietro By

Sign in to view read count
Fresh Sounds is based in Spain, but has released the debut recordings of many of the best new American jazz artists on the scene today. Their intriguing business plan also focuses on local talent, which means the best and brightest of the Barcelona jazz scene.

Thirty year-old pianist Roger Mas is one-third of the Barcelona piano trio Among 3, who made their FSNT premier in 2006. Making the most of this second-chance debut, he's crafted a pastoral, lyrical, panoramic arc of modern jazz.

This last statement applies to a subset of songs here, excluding two formidably executed bop numbers (a cover of "Moment's Notice and the title track) and a mid-tempo blues ("In Love in Vain ) that stand apart from the more impassioned remainder. These also highlight Mas' membership in the coterie of acoustic pianists that produce vocalizations while they improvise, evidently a preferred technique to engender the brand of lyrical non-pianistic improvisation of which Mas is expertly capable. Unfortunately, he's off-pitch and leaked copiously, beyond Jarrett territory, landing dangerously close to Masubimi Kikuchi's distraction quotient.

So it is that, in contrast to other pianists, Mas truly finds his (unmiked) voice and compositional stride on Fender Rhodes, where the vibe resembles three kindred spirits—Frank LoCrasto, Pete Rende and Jesse Chandler. "Millennium Park, taken at a languid pace, stirs inner embers, self-generating its own brand of alternative jazz-pop luster, immediately contending for your current iPod playlist. The melancholy theme is an emotive call-to-arms by tenorist Jon Robles that segues, after a long pause, to restatement and expansion by guitarist Jaume Llombart; but it's Mas' underpinnings that render the thematic material exquisite. The Rhodes trio section imparts a sense of refined lyricism that could only be developed over many years of playing free, but inside, combined with a knowing familiarity of Rhodes-based nuance.

The up-tempo burn of "Wizard showcases Mas, Llombart and Robles' way with faster tempos, notable for the way they surround notes with space no matter the throttle on pure speed. "Ionic is another piece highlighting folksier jazz elements, with Mas outlining the progression as a rock guitarist would strum it. Dual saxophones quickly impart a Latin feel, a taste of Tropicalia, giving way to Llombart's longest solo feature, wherein his refusal to add unnecessary notes draws us further into the song, not the solo. Throughout, Llombart shows he's another guitarist to watch on FSNT's deep roster. Mas' left hand demands the most attention during his solo here—even as he dances so gracefully with his right against guitar drones—to hear the potential for his unique contribution to the evolution of Rhodes styles.

What Roger Mas and his young band show here is that style and musicality trump the tools used to express them. Mas himself is a case study that in the right hands, with the right songs and vibe, it may be prudent, in the cause of beautiful music, to forsake the grand tradition of acoustic trios for minimally processed electric instrumentation.

Track Listing: Moments Notice; Dana; Ionic; Mason; God & the Devil in the Land of the Sun Antonio Carlos Jobim); In Love in Vain; Wizard; Millenium Park.

Personnel: Roger Mas: Fender Rhodes, piano; Jon Robles: tenor and soprano sax; Enrique Oliver: tenor sax; Jaume Llombart: guitar; Bori Albero: bass; Juanma Nieto: drums.

Title: Mason | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Verisimilitude" CD/LP/Track Review Verisimilitude
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Chant" CD/LP/Track Review Chant
by Nicola Negri
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Day By Day" CD/LP/Track Review Day By Day
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Fistfight At The Barndance" CD/LP/Track Review Fistfight At The Barndance
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.