Canadian drummer Barry Romberg (who played last month as the drive behind the large ensemble NOJO at Jazz Standard) has released the third part of his Random Access series. As with previous installments, he has gathered together a noteworthy cadre of his friends that include some of Canada's top jazz musicians to present a percussively led paradise of sound. In this case, nine musicians join Romberg in various combinations for a completely original program.
There is a definite fusion feel to these offerings. This is in no small part due to Romberg employing synth and electric percussion alongside his more standard drum kit, and pianists Greg de Denus and Adrean Farrugia choosing Rhodes instrumentation. Hugh Marsh's highly inventive electric violin and the sometimes searing electric guitar stylings of Geoff Young likewise steer things in this direction. However, top Canadian horn man Kevin Turcotte's cool Miles-like trumpet and newcomer saxophonist Kelly Jefferson are able to play off this electronic stew to make for many intriguing encounters. Romberg himself is able to go both ways, as he does on the quirky "Day 23 and the marvelously broad opus "The Two Elvins. For the latter, brilliant bassist Kieran Overs keeps things rhythmically focused while he alternately permits the free bluesy feel of "Not a Speck of Cereal.
All twelve of these cuts feature complex rhythms upon which each instrumental soloist is able to impart their own melodic take to make for interesting counterpoint. "The Long Haul, with free formish first and third movements that don't quite fit in with its frenetically structured middle, is an apt tribute to "beat writer Charles Bukowski. While Turcotte excels at coolly soaring, as he does on tunes like the all-too-short "A Peace of Mind, and Jefferson admirably bops on "Good Morning Mr. Phelps, Marsh's playing, including pizzicato baritone violin, is textural and otherworldly, adding to an overall absorbing rhythmical fabric.
Track Listing: Day 23, The Two Elvins, On the Lamb, A Peace of Mind, Good Morning Mr. Phelps, Serenity Now, Unneccesary Celebration, Easy Forward, The Plastics, Big Rotten, Not a Spec of Cereal, The Long Haul
Personnel: Barry Romberg: drums, electric percussion, synth; Hugh Marsh--violins; Kevin Turcotte--trumpet; Kelly Jefferson--saxophones; Geoff Young--guitar; Levon Ichkanian--guitar; Rich Brown--bass; Adrean Farrugia--fender rhodes; Greg De Denus--fender rhodes