Dedicated to Jay Rosen's recently deceased father Samuel, this solo date carries an abiding air of necessary solemnity. But as he asserts in his notes, Rosen's wish was to celebrate his father's living rather than lament his passing. The disc's dozen tracks do just that in dynamic fashion, relying on a kit augmented by peripheral devices like a propeller, organ pipes, and xylophone in addition to the usual battery of snare, toms, cymbals, chimes, etc.
Rare for a CIMP release, producer Bob Rusch admits a fair amount of trepidation in the months leading up to the session. His worries appear a bit warranted in the context of the first several tracks, which roll out in a regimental order that feels a bit stiff and mechanical; an analogue to the extremely talented teenager in his basement banging out a series of athletic exercises that has his parents either beaming or cringing in the kitchen upstairs, depending on the relative catholicism of their tastes.
The situation limbers up quickly and Rosen soon hits an elastic stride with a succession of tracks emphasizing a more narrative focus. "Part 4 traffics in muscular rolls that dance off the drum heads in tight gravity-suspending syncopations. For "Part 5 the focus lands on a purposefully overwrought slow drag shuffle that winds tempo down to a crawl without sacrificing any weight or brawn.
A eulogy documenting Samuel's final days comes in the guise of "Part 6, an atmospheric rumination that relies on Rosen's precision stick-play and the incessant chink-chink-chink of a locomotive high-hat. It's all lead in for the disc's apogee "Part 7, a protracted episodic piece of morphing meters that ranks as one of Rosen's most rewarding solo creations on record.
Denis Charles' spirit seeps through in the deliciously rolling tom tom and rims rhythms of "Part 10 where Rosen sustains a sliding Caribbean-tinged flavor. Its predecessor, "Part 8, and successor, "Part 11, elaborate on similar grooves, adding crackling cymbal tinder and staccato snare rolls to the already toothsome blend.
Rosen winds the program up with another extended foray rich in texture and slow boil development that sounds like a small drum choir rather than a solitary man behind his kit. Garlands are also due to Kara Rusch for the stunning cover art and to Marc Rusch for the viscerally crisp fidelity. As of this disc, Rosen's CIMP count now stands at forty releases. Based on the evidence here he's got the creative means to foster fourscore more.
Songs For Samuel: Parts 1-12.
Jay Rosen: drums. (Recorded: March 21, 2005, Rossie, NY.)