Ocelot is a trio of saxophonist Yuma Uesaka, pianist Cat Toren and drummer Colin Hinton that breaks away from the usual jazz sensibilities, playing music that unwinds laterally and slowly. The individual tracks on their CD may exist in a constant state of quiet contemplation or work up to a grand climax but they all give off a sense of close listening and communication between the three musicians.
Several of the tracks stay quiet but intense for most of their duration. "Factum" begins with a slow drum roll and develops into a paring of hushed and eerie clarinet tones from Uesaka and faint cymbal and glockenspiel sounds from Hinton. Then quiet piano and saxophone melodies trickle out and get heavier and louder as the piece progresses. On "Anemone" and "Sequestration" the music stays at a low hum throughout with Toren's measured chords pitted against low sax bellows on the former and matched with stretched clarinet whines on the latter. "Contemptuality" is the most mesmerizing of these pieces with its foundation built on Toren's hesitant but sparkling piano notes that form an alternatingly loud and quiet pattern. That pattern is gradually taken over by looming bass clarinet moans and tinkling percussion, with the whole eventually forming into a sinister but entrancing melody.
There are livelier pieces in the set as well. "Daimon II" has all three musicians playing from the outset, combining repeating lines into a woozy theme given weight by Hinton's strong trap drumming and Uesaka's flowing tenor. On "Post" the trio rattles repeating fire alarm-like notes that alternate with brief rising interludes and on "Iterations I" everyone rolls around together noisily. The closing "Crocus" is the climax of all this. Torin hesitantly picks out a tender strain against Hinton's decorative rustling. Then Uesaka swoops in on tenor, the piano becomes more forceful and the trio finally achieves group solidarity as Uesaka bellows mightily and Torin and HInton crash along in support..
This CD is not something you put on in the background. This is thoughtful music that requires serious listening to reveal its logic, drama and cumulative power. Ocelot is a trio that makes great things out of stillness and deliberation.