Autobahn: Of the Tree

Dan McClenaghan By

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A jazz trio named Autobahn, from Toronto, Canada, with an unusual make-up—piano, sax and drums—is just asking to called "experimental" on their modernistic recording, Of The Tree. And why not? Eliminating the bass (the obvious missing link) makes for new atmospheres, and creates new spaces. Looking for comparisons, Momentum Space (Verve Records, 1999), a masterpiece of the sparsely-populated piano/sax/drums genre by free jazz piano legend Cecil Taylor, saxophonist Dewey Redman and drummer Elvin Jones, is one that comes to mind—a set that pushed the limits of that brand of trio sound.

Up The Tree pushes limits in its own way, with a dark and abstract chamber rumination on the disc's opener, "Grounded," before shifting into a hellbent, careening groove of "Primrose Princess (Part 1)," that could be a soundtrack for a car that's lost it steering, down bound on a mountain road. "Tribute," with reed man Jeff LaRochelle shifting to the rich tones of bass clarinet alongside the glistening piano work of James Hill, and Ian Wright's for whom-the-bell-tolls drums, sounds like music from another planet, or dream. "Forgiveness" is a celebration, in an almost mainstream way, with some inspired interplay, with a great melody that sounds as though it trying out for the jazz standard competition, and rising to the top of the contest. "Roots" is a La Rochelle's satisfying tenor saxophone solo honk-fest, and "Reverie" does justice to its title—a piece of searching, introspective beauty.

Coming up with an original sound is one of the hardest things to do in jazz, or in any art form, for that matter. Autobahn has done that nicely, with their consistently-compelling Of The Tree.

Track Listing

Grounded; Primrose Princess, Part I; Tribute; Forgiveness, Roots; Reverie; Interlude; Glass; Slow Dance; Bird Flight; Primrose Princess, Part II; Airborne.


James Hill: piano; Jeff DeRochelle: tenor sax and bass clarinet; Ian Wright: drums.

Album information

Title: Of the Tree | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced



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