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Stephan Crump: Stephan Crump's Rhombal

Mark Corroto By

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Often times, a jazz performance without a chordal instrument, a guitar or piano, is considered to be flying without a net. Exciting, but often without aim. It routinely relies on just one powerful figure to command the proceedings. That is, unless the ensemble is configured under egalitarian principles. Equal contribution and respect for the differing voices removes that fear of flying without the safety of a chordal net. If I can paraphrase Abraham Lincoln for you now, "a jazz quartet of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."

Ok, so I hyperbolize a bit, but spinning bassist Stephan Crump's Rhombal highlights the true democratic principles of jazz. His working quartet of saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, trumpeter Adam O'Farrill, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey can create an autonomous art, individual voices working the create a unified sound.

Each player is a leader of their own bands, plus a contributor to multiple ensembles. Crump with Vijay Iyer, Mary Halvorson, and his own Rosetta Trio. O'Farrill, grandson of Chico O'Farrill and son of Arturo O'Farrill with Rudresh Mahanthappa, Sorey with just about every innovative working band today from John Zorn to Steve Lehman and Steve Coleman, and Eskelin, the go-to Downtown musician for the past thirty years performing with Satoko Fujii, Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck and recently in his New York Trio.

Putting this quartet together, Crump honors his late brother Patrick with music that ranges from the joyful post-bop of "Skippaningham" to the memento mori "Pulling Pillars -Outro for Patty." The compostions, all by Crump, strike one as pieces that could only be negotiated by this band. That's a ridiculous statement, but pairing the veteran Eskelin with the kid, O'Farrill, and the accented propulsion of Sorey creates a special sound.

"Birdwhistle" is busy with budgie horn chatter and the rustling trees sounds of Sorey's brushwork as Crump handles the pulse. Played as the birds scatter their solos. "Esquima Dream" is a piece Crump reimagined from his two guitar/bass Rosetta Trio. Sorey applies a funky hip-hop beat as the horns lock-in, then intertwine. "Tschi" feels like a piece Crump might invent with Mary Halvorson. The simplicity of its structure lends itself to the inviting development of solos that swing.

Track Listing: Nod for Nelson; Grovi; Skippaningham; Loose Boy; Esquima Dream; How Close Are You; Tschi; Birdwhistle; Pulling Pillars -- Outro for Patty.

Personnel: Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Stephan Crump: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Title: Stephan Crump's Rhombal | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Papillon Sounds


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