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.