Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Stephan Crump: Rosetta

204

Stephan Crump: Rosetta

By

View read count
Stephan Crump: Rosetta
Some albums convey an intimacy that feels as though you're sitting in a living room, listening to an informal get-together of a group of musical friends. In the case of bassist Stephan Crump and Rosetta, that's more than a feeling, it's exactly what happened. At the end of January, 2005 Crump got together with guitarists Liberty Ellman and Jamie Fox at his home to record a set of compositions which demonstrate depth, breadth and an understated but unequivocal chemistry.

Crump's career has been all over the map. He's worked in settings ranging from percussionist Gregg Bendian's energized Mahavishnu Project to the forward-reaching pianist Vijay Iyer's group. Rosetta works within a defined framework that favors elegance and quiet over flamboyance and angularity, though that doesn't mean there isn't a subtle edge to some of the writing. There's no denying everyone's improvisational élan, and it's part of what Rosetta is about, but it's equally about a collective sound that provides a soft veneer and makes even the most idiosyncratic writing feel comforting and totally natural.

The title track is a combination of stops, starts and mixed meters, but the sense of calm that pervade the entire disc makes even its less-than-conventional harmonic shifts comfortable. Even when Ellman takes a dynamic solo that illuminates the greater potential of even a two-chord vamp, there's an overriding tranquility. Fox's electric tone is clean and warm and, with rare exception, uneffected. Like Jim Hall, there's also an organic quality to it that makes it fit perfectly with Ellman and Crump's acoustic textures.

"Carrousel en Verre has a folksy ambience, Crump's spare solo setting the stage for Ellman's delivery of its equally folkloric theme. But when Fox and Ellman solo in tandem over Crump's changes, it skews ever so slightly—just enough to demonstrate a knottier intent without overstating it. This is also an episodic tune, shifting to an ethereal coda where Crump layers long arco notes over Fox and Ellman's delay-effected changes.

The bluesy "Rosie has a feeling of delicate disquiet that gives it a quality that separates it from convention. Crump's solo has a Charlie Haden-like simplicity, while Ellman and Fox find ways to be unpredictable without tarnishing the tune's roots ambience.

The catholic lyricism of Rosetta, combined with an esoteric approach to traditional forms and a relaxed and unforced feeling, recommends it as one of the year's sleeper hits. Its still intimacy inherently prevents it from having the kind of "wow factor that makes other records stand out more immediately. But dig deep into its unassuming honesty and intentionally gentle façade, and you'll find a rich profundity that begs repeated spins.

Track Listing

Tag; Were it a Loss; Rosetta; Kudzu; Carrousel en Verre; Rosie; Residual; Our Survival; Ing

Personnel

Stephan Crump: bass; Liberty Ellman: acoustic guitar; Jamie Fox: electric guitar.

Album information

Title: Rosetta | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Papillon Sounds


Comments

Tags

Concerts


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Tributes
Antonio Farao
Timing Is Everything
Eric Alexander
In Situ
Alexa Torres

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.