422

Josh Berman: Old Idea

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Josh Berman: Old Idea As co-leader of the Emerging Improvisers and Umbrella Collective with drummer Mike Reed, cornetist Josh Berman has been a pivotal force in the Chicago jazz scene. A regular member of Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown, Jeb Bishop's Lucky 7's, Keefe Jackson's Project Project and Fast Citizens and Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra, Berman has proven to be a strong new voice of the post-Vandermark generation.

A richly textured and delicately nuanced record, Old Idea is Berman's long awaited debut as a leader, fronting a quintet of regular collaborators Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophone), Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Anton Hatwich (bass) and Nori Tanaka (drums). As is typical of the tight-knit Chicago scene, all of the quintet members play together in other ensembles, lending the session an air of carefree congeniality.

Berman is a longstanding member of Adasiewicz's quintet whose debut, Rolldown (482 Music, 2008), shares many stylistic similarities with this date. Like Adasiewicz, Berman re-interprets the asymmetrical melodies, fractured rhythms and striking harmonies of the innovative mid-1960s Blue Note recordings of Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean and Grachan Moncur III for a modern age.

Berman's open-ended writing is complemented by his buttery tone and malleable phrasing, favoring the cornet's mid-range over piercing, brassy pyrotechnics. Mirroring his approach towards improvisation, Berman's pieces rely on oblique narratives rather than conventional head-solo-head formats for direction. The loose "On Account of a Hat" opens the record with a capricious arrangement and string of feverish solos driven by endlessly modulating rhythmic accompaniment. Berman and Adasiewicz contribute strong statements as Jackson's blustery tenor provides the tune's climax over a rapidly deconstructed vamp.

"Let's Pretend" invokes the noir ambience of Dolphy's Out To Lunch (Blue Note, 1964), as Adasiewicz's metallic flourishes pirouette across staccato martial rhythms and a descending melodic line, while the leader's fervent salvos negotiate roiling accompaniment from the band. The episodic "Nori" features similarly thorny detours, transitioning from frantic collective improvisation to serene balladry, punctuated by a swinging coda.

The timeless ballads "Db" and "Almost Late" resonate with maturity, the latter featuring a sumptuous, restrained duo cadenza between Berman and Jackson—a perfect pair. The Latin-themed "What Can?" employs similarly unconventional instrumental combinations, with Berman and Tanaka locked in an effusive duet.

Serving as brief interludes, three different versions of "Next Year" offer potent reminders of Berman's compositional prowess, veering from contrapuntal exercises to rhythmic studies. A carefully balanced session of bluesy, cinematic atmospheres bolstered by old school avant-garde traditions, Old Idea looks to the past while forging headlong into the future.

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

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "My Iris" CD/LP/Track Review My Iris
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "So Beautiful, It Starts To Rain" CD/LP/Track Review So Beautiful, It Starts To Rain
by John Sharpe
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Everything's Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Everything's Beautiful
by Asher Wolf
Published: July 18, 2016
Read "Live North America 2016" CD/LP/Track Review Live North America 2016
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "What Doesn’t Kill You" CD/LP/Track Review What Doesn’t Kill You
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!