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Mara Rosenbloom Trio: Prairie Burn

Dan Bilawsky By

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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 Burn—a 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 centerpiece—a 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 another—bears 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.

Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: Mara Rosenbloom: piano; Sean Conly: bass; Chad Taylor: drums.

Title: Prairie Burn | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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