Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

375

Jim Staley: Scattered Thoughts

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Jim Staley's career has been either made by or hastened by (or more likely both) his work as a producer and promoter. He rarely performs outside of Roulette, the longstanding Downtown venue he oversees and appears there only a few times a year at best. His recorded output is largely limited to occasional releases on Einstein Records, the label run as a part of Roulette Intermedium. His work keeping Roulette afloat through four decades of changing landscapes in new music is to be championed, even if it means fewer people know him as one of the city's finest improvisers than otherwise might.

Staley excels at the duo, as evidenced by his longstanding partnership with Ikue Mori, and on the double CD Scattered Thoughts is heard in two excellent and very different, pairings. The first disc is an intriguing, long-form composition by bassist William Parker, performed with a prerecorded soundscape that collages disembodied voices (spoken and singing) against fragments of music and other floating sounds. Parker's large-scale works have an unusual way of suggesting linearity without quite executing it and "Six Minutes Dancing in the Fog" seems to be a global perspective on the making of music. Parker may be less of a storyteller than he is a storythinker, but his skeletal frameworks still make for interesting structures. The playing here is mostly subdued, an unusual realm for Staley, who comes out of the quick-change school of the early Downtown days. Parker, likewise, is more of a passing presence here than he is in the anchoring he has provided for so many free jazz groupings. The world of abstract music doesn't demand literal readings and the melding of duo and ghostly other here is striking.

The second disc is a more typical situation in which to find Staley: a series of improvisations with an equally quick-witted partner and longtime associate. Drummer Joey Baron has been a fixture of many significant New York groups (most popularly John Zorn's Naked City and Masada, but also Bill Frisell's long-lived trio with bassist Kermit Driscoll and an array of other assemblages) and is an enthusiastically responsive player. Even hearing his handiwork on record (sometimes quite literally, as he is given to setting the sticks aside) is a blissful experience. It's a great pairing for Staley, whose arsenal of mutes are the mechanics of his unpredictable twists and turns. Each player also takes one piece unaccompanied, adding to the richness of the communication. There is an exciting sense while listening that anything can happen—and once it's over that perhaps everything did.

The two sets are different enough that they deserve to be separated and presumably that was the thinking behind releasing this as a double disc, even though the 77 minutes would have fit on a single CD. Einstein's pricing, however, matches the playing time, not the disc count. Housed in a bright digipack with cover art evoking Chuck Close, it's a fine reminder of what a rare, if omnipresent, gem Jim Staley is.

Track Listing: Six Minutes Dancing in the Fog; Borrego Sands; Bubbaville; door #1; What's There?; Scattered Thoughts; Tennessee Tweek.

Personnel: Jim Staley: trombone; William Parker: bass, taped electronic environment; Joey Baron: drums.

Title: Scattered Thoughts | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Einstein Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read One Night in Indy CD/LP/Track Review One Night in Indy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 15, 2018
Read A Sky You Could Strike a Match On CD/LP/Track Review A Sky You Could Strike a Match On
by Patrick Burnette
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Open Borders CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 14, 2018
Read can't believe, won't believe CD/LP/Track Review can't believe, won't believe
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 14, 2018
Read "Slade Alive!" CD/LP/Track Review Slade Alive!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Presence" CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Loafer's Hollow" CD/LP/Track Review Loafer's Hollow
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "You & I" CD/LP/Track Review You & I
by James Nadal
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Living In Twilight" CD/LP/Track Review Living In Twilight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 31, 2017