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No doubt Herb Robertson is one of the criminally under-recognized trumpeters in modern jazz and free improvisation as his highly praised work with alto saxophonist Tim Berne and recordings for the much beloved “JMT” jazz label will attest to his musical individuality. However, Robertson has since charted fertile terrain with some of Europe’s finest, although this new release was recorded in New Jersey, June 11, 2000.
Here, the trumpeter steers a group of like minded musicians for a series of lengthy and largely free improvisational pieces as the band opts for a semi-theatrical approach, teeming with humor and pathos. With “The Status Quo,” Robertson’s poetic recital provides a sense of parody amid trombonists’, Steve Swell and Bob Hovey’s cantankerous mid-register lines and Hans Tammen’s finicky “endangered guitar” underpinnings. Consequently, Robertson perpetuates a plethora of novel propositions via his gruff, raspy tone, fluent lines, and altogether muscular mode of attack.
Tammen continues with his manic guitar passages on the free flowing piece, “Time Out/Zipangu,” whereas, various members of the band utilize small percussion instruments in concurrence with Robertson’s melodica performances, whistles and the soloists’ fragmented micro-themes. Hence, there’s a whole lot going on here, including Chris Lough’s nimbly executed bass lines, drummer Tom Sayek’s oscillating rhythms, Robertson’s boisterously stated lyricism and the musicians’ generally festive undercurrents on pieces such as “Tickle Me Crazy” and “Beehive Secrets”. Overall, Music For Long Attention Spans effectively captures one’s imagination as this new effort might signify one of Herb Robertson’s most persuasive recorded documents to date. Highly recommended.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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