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Stephan Crump: Rosetta

Mark F. Turner By

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Listening to Rosetta is like inviting three musicians into your personal space for a private concert. The intimacy, spontaneity and sound of the record draw you directly into the music. Stephan Crump, who has brought his bass bravado to a number of releases with emerging artists like pianist Vijay Iyer, has created what appears to be on the surface just an uncomplicated guitar trio recording. But careful listeners will hear what lies underneath: deceivingly complex, stimulating and meticulously executed music.

Crump plays acoustic bass along with two collaborators, guitarists Liberty Ellman (acoustic ) and Jamie Fox (electric), but unlike typical guitar ensembles, the combination of the electric instrument with its acoustic siblings imparts a unique timbre to the music's sound. The woodiness of the bass, the electric's amplified sound, and the acoustic guitar's tone are oddly but perfectly matched as each musician brings his own considerable skills to the music.

The aptly titled "Tag finds the stringed instruments playfully chasing each other with quick solos. One of the more striking pieces is "Were it a Loss, which begins somberly, but then spreads into multiple threads where the musicians swap patterns, then resumes the starting phrase. Even Crump's funky bass pattern on "Kudzu is slightly out in the twilight zone as Foxx and Ellman detune and play in odd octaves.

There are many pieces where the harmony of the instruments creates warmth and familiarity, like "Rosie, which sounds like a bluegrass ballad in a pastoral setting; Fox's guitar twangs soulfully as Crump and Ellman bring their own stories to the tune. Running the gamut from the rustically familiar to the surreal dreams of the closing melody, Rosetta is a unique experience.

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.

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

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