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In some contexts, Chicago bassist Jason Roebke plays the sort of quiet sputters of sound that somehow gets lumped into jazz. His project Art Union Humanscape with dancer Ayako Kato performed at the Joyce Soho in September with Chicago ex-pat percussionist Tim Barnes in a setting of beauteous sound and silence. With his trio, however, he plays the kind of adventurous music built purely from lingua jazz but still managing to eclipse expectations. It's a feat not so often accomplished: composing within the tradition yet not relying on it and not delving wholly into unscripted improvisation.
Roebke studied under Roscoe Mitchell and likely picked up some inside/outside lessons there. But Rapid Croche isn't otherwise reminiscent of Mitchell's explorations. Roebke writes long and sinewy post-Ornette leads that dissolve naturally into slow, open improvisations. They snake around and sneak up; there's no taking it from the top here. Instead, his heads create only a vague feeling of having been here before when they return.
The melody lines, for the most part, are carried by Aram Shelton, who's good on alto saxophone and great on clarinet. Tim Daisy (who has played with Shelton in Dragons 1976 and was recently hired for Ken Vandermark's quintet) punctuates without pushing, slipping in and out of meter as easily as the songs themselves wander behind trees and through mist. Rapid Croche is the kind of challenge that doesn't demand attention, doesn't talk louder if it's not getting a response. It's a patient record, quietly interesting and ready to offer more if asked.
Track Listing: 1. Please (Roebke) - 4:56
2. Sensor (Roebke) - 3:58
3. Any American (Roebke) - 5:44
4. Whatever You Think Is Beautiful (Roebke) - 6:52
5. It's Enough (Roebke) - 5:13
6. Like You Thought It Might Be (Roebke) - 7:56
7. Just Before It Starts (Roebke) - 7:10
8. Northern Cross (Roebke) - 5:31
Personnel: Jason Roebke - Bass;
Tim Daisy - Drums;
Aram Shelton - Clarinet, Alto Sax.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.