Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Josh Berman: Old Idea

221

Josh Berman: Old Idea

By

Sign in to view read count
Josh Berman: Old Idea
If it really is about old ideas, as the title of this album by cornetist Josh Berman states, then the ones expressed here are done so in collective tongues fresh enough to be transformative, from mouths breathing new life into them. Berman has been a stalwart of the Chicago improvised music community for awhile now, and he brings his experience to bear on his first date as a leader, in a manner that others would do well to observe.

This quintet sets out of its stall through individuality of expression, but what really sets the seal on the proceedings is the distinction of Berman's compositions, which on the surface seem like the most complex sketches. "Nori" is a working example of how Berman appreciates the importance of keeping out of his fellow musicians' way. The piece is essentially episodic, but still hangs together as a coherent whole. There's a kind of slightly unnerving lushness to Jason Adasiewicz's vibraphone playing, which ensures he betrays no overt influence in his work; and the long delay he sometimes deploys is at odds with both Berman's cornet work, and that of tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson.

It might be said that Jackson's hard yet slightly pinched tone is as good as the leader's. On the Eric Dolphy-like lope of "Let's Pretend," he brings it to bear via measured, unhurried phrasing over drummer Nori Tanaka's flirtation with the parade ground. Jackson's sense of economy allows the silence to play an integral part in the music's development. By contrast, Adasiewicz gets a little rhapsodic before changing course in mid-solo, opting for fractured yet still measured phrasing over a quickening pulse.

It would be damning Berman with faint praise to say that his cornet playing contains no overt traces of Don Cherry. The fact that it's true tells only part of the story. In his way of breaking off a phrase—like a man who starts in on saying something, but realizes, mid-flow, that the right words have eluded him—Berman has something in common with Wild Bill Davison, a Chicago scion of considerably older vintage and musical persuasion. On "Almost Late," he betrays a strain of lyricism entirely his own, and when he and Jackson come together unaccompanied, it's clear that they speak a common language.

It's a vernacular in which the whole band is conversant as well. Berman evidently hasn't been hasty in putting together his debut date as a leader; but in this case, it's pretty obvious that patience is not only its own reward, but also a good thing for anyone who values improvised music as a means for creative and rewarding expression.

Track Listing

On Account of a Hat; Next Year A; Let's Pretend; Nori; Next Year B; Almost Late; What Can?; Db; Next Year C.

Personnel

Josh Berman
cornet

Josh Berman: cornet; Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Anton Hatwich: bass; Nori Tanaka: drums.

Album information

Title: Old Idea | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Where Did You Go?
Sandman Project
Traumsequenz
Moritz Stahl
The Cold Arrow
Gregorio / Smith / Bryerton
Mosaic
Nicole McCabe

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.