Saxophonist Matt Bauder was mentored by celebrated avant-garde jazz saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton
and has been a busy and quite productive artist on numerous jazz fronts. As a topnotch session man and leader, Bauder's resume intimates fruitful affiliations with musicians who are at the forefront of the progressive jazz and avant-garde sectors. Fueled by an all-star lineup, Nightshades
is the saxophonist's second solo effort for Portugal-based Clean Feed Records, and is a program that shifts between mainstream jazz and ultramodern propositions.
Bauder kicks off the agenda with a Horace Silver
style bump and grind oeuvre "Octavia Minor," where pianist Kris Davis
complements the leader's gritty sax lines with cool accents and swirling chord clusters. However, compositional contrasts abound on other works as the band creates more than a few highly expressionistic firestorms, but alternates the avant-garde forays with pieces such as the old school conventional jazz type ballad, "Starr Wykoff." Here, warm, late-night soloing activities are integrated into a curvy song-form, featuring Bauder's contemplative lines and drummer Tomas Fujiwara
's delicate brushes.
"Rule of Thumbs" is a topsy-turvy excursion, marked by free-flowing dialogues as the soloists embark on a search and conquer mission while piloting through a surfeit of nooks and crannies as Davis equalizes the pace via linear runs and off-kilter phrasings. Moreover, the band alternates the current with succinct choruses, but venture into a heightened red-zone attack amid trumpeter Nate Wooley
's breathy intonation, scratchy notes and microtonal articulations. Otherwise "August and Counting," begins with a knock- down, drag-out groove, tempered by Bauder's tender interludes. And "Nightshades" closes out the album with a genial, New Orleans second- line boogaloo vamp.
Bauder's strategic output combines ferocious improvisational activities that rattle the senses with other compositions and movements that could soothe the savage beast. It's a hybrid gameplan that yields gratifying results.
Octavia Minor; Weekly Resolution; Starr Wykoff; Rule of Thirds; August
Matt Bauder: tenor saxophone; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Kris Davis: piano;
double bass; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.