When thought outpaces action in music, the results are often staid and forgettable. Conversely, when thinking is suppressed in favor of ceaseless activity, the end results are often turbid, shambolic, and largely unlistenable. It's the power struggle between the two, along with the personalities controlling that struggle, that help jazz to expand, evolve, explore, and excite. Count pianist Mara Rosenbloom as one of those singular personalities pushing, probing, and exerting influence on the balance between idea and execution.
Rosenbloom's group with saxophonist Darius Jones put her on the map for fans of creative music, but she's mapping out new territory with a trio on Prairie Burna suite-focused album that's bold and aggressive. It's a compelling aural conflagration, but one that's controlled and continually redirected. Rosenbloom, bassist Sean Conly, and drummer Chad Taylor toy with avant-western motifs, spiky gestures, and excitable grooves, taking blissful jaunts across the scorched land in a rickety carriage of their own creation. It's a wild ride in the best sense of the phrase.
The fully improvised "Brush Fire" sets the scene with a dose of heightened tension before Rosenbloom telescopes focus with her thoughtful piano work. Then comes the album's centerpiecea thirty-eight minute, four-part work full of ups and downs. It was recorded in one single, non-stop take. That method of capture adds to the urgency in the music. There's an intentionally punch-drunk playfulness to be found in the way the trio interacts at times during this suite, but there's also a dead serious mindfulness to this trio. One listen to "Part 3: Work"a performance that affixes uncertainty, meditation, soulfulness, darkness, and a hint of resolution to one anotherbears that out.
While the title suite could've made for a short but satisfying album on its own, Rosenbloom sweetens the deal here by adding two solo piano numbers which stand apart in origin yet remained somewhat united in emotional tone. "I Rolled And I Tumbled," performed as a nod to John Lee Hooker, is pure blues and pathos. "There Will Never Be Another You" starts with a simpler and sunnier approach, but it, too, quickly finds it's way into bluesy territory before leaving for more measured realms. Both are undiluted works of beauty produced by a wholehearted poet of the piano. Prairie Burn delivers in all the right ways.
Brush Fire (An Improvised Overture); The Praire Burn Set: Part 1: Red-Winged Blackbirds; Part 2: Turbulence; Part 3: Work!; Part 4: Songs From The Ground; I Rolled And I Tumbled (Solo Piano Tribute To John Lee Hooker); There Will Never Be Another You.
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.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian / Bossa Nova / Samba Classical / Chamber Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove / Acid Jazz Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz / Gypsy Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal