Trumpeter Brian Groder distinctive style marks his intelligent versatility and superlative musicianship. This is, of course, not news for those familiar with his work. Whether in electronically tinged improvisational ensembles like Confusion Bleue, large orchestras or intimately small groups Groder's unconventional yet always engaging approach morphs to fit the setting while remaining singularly recognizable.
His trio outing Reflexology is a sparse, haunting exploration of hard bop motifs that is simultaneously provocative and endowed with a visceral rhythmic sense. The loosely swinging "Hexadox" for instance starts with a catchy head out of which emerges Groder's darkly melodic and intriguing extemporization. His full-bodied tone meanders unhurriedly over his sidemen's deeply reverberating vamps creating a delightfully textured, almost ethereal sound.
An adventurous touch is apparent on such tracks as the cinematic "Haiti-B." Groder's long, yearning notes loosely weave a spontaneous and poetic theme over the slow simmer of thuds and thrums. Drummer Jay Rosen takes a thrillingly angular turn in the spotlight with breathtakingly agile and complex, polyrhythms.
Rosen's thunderous beats drive the free flowing "Veer." A pensive mood highlights this provocative piece that features Groder's contemplative horn and bassist Michael Bisio's intricate and inventive solo that brims with lyricism and soul.
One of the most virtuosic and imaginative performers on the double bass Bisio's signature, melancholic con arco phrases flow in a somber procession with Groder's languid horn on the mystical and dramatic "Tarried Breath." Rosen's deep rumble and his lightning sharp cymbals enhance the solemn and tense ambience. This memorable and stimulating tone poem of sorts is perhaps the centerpiece of this otherwise uniformly superb album. Introspective, at times atmospheric, always engrossing Reflexology pays tribute to Jazz's innovative spirit while concurrently remaining delightfully accessible. Unlike the dubious "medical" discipline of the same name this record is a solid, consistently gratifying slice of creative music.
What Not, Hexadox, Some Other Where, Haiti-B, Veer, Tarried Breath, Deeping Appearances,
Opposing Motion, Snooker.
Brian Groder: trumpet and flugelhorn; Michael Bisio: bass; Jay Rosen: drums.
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