For better or worse the CIMP imprint is burdened with great deal of baggage stemming from their stubborn adherence to certain self-imposed philosophical and methodological parameters. In addition to the controversial recording techniques they employ on their sessions the label also has a reputation for myopically centering on the freer strains of creative improvised music. An examination of the wealth of material in their catalog lends some credence to this argument, but also visible are notable exceptions of which this disc by Cheshire is one.
The program here is an intriguing blend of standards with a pair of Cheshire scribed originals mixed in for good measure. The majority of the leader’s improvisations are chord-based, expanding exponentially from melodic lines, but the consequent music carries none of the rigid structuralism so often associated with the mainstream. Duval and Rosen are the ideal accompanists for such and environment of low-key ingenuity and in tandem they build a rhythmic underpinning that simultaneously supports as it succeeds in fomenting fresh ideas. Cheshire recognizes his fortitude from the session’s inception and makes wise use of rhythmic spaciousness to free his own playing from the fetters of redundancy and lassitude. The delicate beauty of pieces like Cheshire’s own “December Ballad” shares the studio stage with more febrile fare like the accelerated reading of Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge.” “Variations on Nardis,” which takes as it’s springboard a memorable theme by Miles Davis is another instance where the three players unroll a velvety creative carpet of musical impressions. Across each piece, Cheshire’s lithesome fingers and plectrum pick out a seemingly endless series of variations on each theme whether familiar or foreign.
Stacked beside its label mates this disc may stick out like a sore thumb. But it is these anomalous traits that characterize its chief charms as well as make it an opportune vehicle for pointing out CIMP’s diversity to detractors. Cheshire is a plectrist of unusual facility and more importantly of uncommon sensitivity. Hearing him in the company of players of the caliber of Duval and Rosen makes the magic even more potent and indelible.
Tracks:Footprints/ December Ballad/ Inner Urge/ Variations on Nardis/ All Blues/ Tenderly/ El Niño Winter/ Body & Soul.
Players:Andrew Cheshire- guitar; Dominic Duval- bass; Jay Rosen- drums.
Recorded: January 26 & 27, 1998, Rossie, NY.
CIMP recordings are available directly through North Country Distributors: