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Russ Lossing Trio: Oracle

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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There are rolling, wide open spaces in the music of Russ Lossing. Much of this is traversed in the seemingly sprawling beauty of Oracle, an album that meanders in the absorbing colors and textures of what that which the trio offers up for seduction. It is easy to be swept up in the diaphanous gusts of sound that sweep across the terrain, which, in turn, opens up with Lossing's gorgeously cadenced arpeggios that skitter and ramble startlingly across the interminable landscape that the music opens out into. The result makes clear that this is repertoire that is dramatic and full of splendid twists and turns that are not easy to predict, but are always breathtaking when they assuage the senses.

Lossing is a pianist of exceptional talent. His is an emerging voice characterised by a wonderful sense of the spatial geometry of music. His ideas are arresting and are manifest in great swathes of sound that fear no sound, consonant or dissonant, from the keyboard, no matter what sequence the fall into. This should not suggest a lack of form or plan that precedes each musical despatch. Rather, it seems that Lossing is almost deliberate in the notes that make up the phrases and lines that make up his music. However, he shuffles each sequence making up new ones that begin and end with mathematical logic as well as with algebraic conceptual continuity. And he brooks no measure to unveil each idea in as theatrical a fashion. He is also an extraordinary technician who delights in expressive emotion and superb dynamics.

The pianist is in fine company with bassist, Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz—the latter also making significant contributions to the repertoire on this, the first album under Lossing's leadership. Kamaguchi is a brazen manipulator of the bass violin. In this regard he is hardly wont to retire to the rear of the group and play self-effacing anchor man. His sketches, when called upon to enter into the proceedings are deliberate, bold and yet they are able to coddle the soft reports on the piano and shimmering textures of skins and cymbals with great tenderness. Mintz is much more withdrawn, although his music is singularly alluring. "Beautiful Ugly" is an exquisite take on the Thelonious Monk tune, "Ugly Beauty" and "Love and Beauty" has a fluttering quality that can weaken the knees with its emotional density. Lossing play it with Liszt-like ingenuity, imparting to its beautiful melody a feeling of tortured sighs.

The rest of the fare is equally superlative and its performance by this very special trio makes this an album that will resound in the world of improvised music for a long time. It is just a matter of how far and wide Russ Lossing, Masa Kamaguchi and Billy Mintz are willing to take their music together.

Track Listing: Swimming Dragon; Beautiful Ugly; No Trace; Oracle; Intermezzo; Love And Beauty; Huge; Underground Ballad; Caldron.

Personnel: Russ Lossing: piano; Masa Kamaguchi: bass; Billy Mintz: drums.

Title: Oracle | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records

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