The Shapes, Textures and Sound Ensemble is a quintessential downtown New York jazz group in the tradition of Other Dimensions in Music and Testas intense and impassioned as music honed on the street should be: tough, but coherent and highly skilled. Led by veteran reedman Sabir Mateen on alto, tenor, flute and clarinets, none of the players in the Ensemble are more than a degree or two outside of the wide shadow cast by William Parker's Little Huey Creative Orchestraand in its dedication to group interaction and individual expression, this quintet swings with the weight of that much bigger band.
Trombonist Steve Swell is the one who makes the difference, playing his horn as if it were a lower-pitched version of Matt Lavelle's growling trumpet. With the two in tandem on the opening cut, "Sekasso Blues, their brassy swagger is arresting. On "Children of the Creator, the musicians jostle for position amidst barely controlled chaos before Mateen's tenor emerges, his tone rich, full and forthright. "The Beauty Within leads off with a brief Matthew Heyner arco solo before he puts down the bow to mix it up with Michael TA Thompson's drums in a stretchy duet.
There's more to the ensemble, however, than mere muscle. Recorded live at Brooklyn's Zebulon, the moods shift moment to moment, the balance tilting from the evocative initializing melodies to the freer-ranging solos and instrumental dialogues. The long title track embodies the best the group has to offer: tight composition, spontaneous creativity and sympathetic interaction. The Shapes, Textures and Sound Ensemble comes by its name honestly.
Track Listing: Sekasso Blues; The Beauty Within; Everyone
Personnel: Sabir Mateen: tenor and alto saxophones, flute, clarinets; Matt Lavelle: trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet; Steve Swell: trombone; Matthew Heyner: bass; Michael T.A. Thompson: drums and percussion.