Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

441

Steve Adams Trio: Surface Tension

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Adams is best-known as a long-term member of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Rova saxophone quartet. Over the past three decades Rova has become a highly respected institution, courtesy of an impressive range of collaborative projects, from work with the Kronos Quartet and pianist Satoko Fujii to multi-media efforts like "Glass Head."



Membership in an intensely focused partnership like Rova has obvious benefits, and while Adams' two decade long tenure with the group has yielded incredible opportunities, it has also limited his solo output. Other than a few duo recordings with contrabassist Ken Filiano and multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, his own discography has been relatively sparse. Surface Tension, then, is a welcome glimpse into Adams' personal aesthetic.

Adams is joined by Filiano and drummer Scott Amendola on this rare trio recording—a varied studio set that veers from the austere to the coruscating. Like-minded peers in the adventurous West Coast scene, Filiano and Amendola reveal a deep-seated rapport with Adams that lends a conversational air to their interactions. Whether navigating freely improvised or fully notated compositions, their congenial interplay sounds inspired and effortless.

Alternating horns throughout the session, Adams unveils a range of sonorities and timbres culled from a variety of woodwinds, from sopranino saxophone to bass flute. Each instrument is used to excellent effect in contrasting contexts, weaving a diverse and texturally rich mosaic of sound.

His bold baritone saxophone cuts a deep swath through Filiano and Amendola's pneumatic downbeats on "The Another Form in Time Voice" and "Equilibria," ratcheting up the energy level with brash, muscular flurries. Filiano exceeds his requisite role as timekeeper and harmonic anchor, plying sinuous arco glissandi on "Upper and Lower Partials," and unleashing a percolating salvo of ebullient pizzicato on "Squeamish" and "Squelch." Amendola's crisp rhythms and steady cymbal accents keep the trio focused, whether navigating the oblique contours of "Equilibria" or shading the atmospheric "Little Ballad" with gossamer washes.

Adams' introspective side is revealed on the bass flute driven numbers "Upper and Lower Partials," "Little Ballad" and the spectral title track. Unfurling at a glacial pace, these meditative Asiatic tone poems brim with hushed tones, resonant bass harmonics and scintillating cymbal accents. The album is not limited to this dynamic chiaroscuro however. "Squeamish" is a funky, abstract post-bop vehicle for Adams' soulful tenor and "Squelch" is a conventional swinger replete with traditional chord changes. Alternating between sopranino and baritone, Adams elicits a squall of dissonant multiphonics and expressive cries on "Cacophony (for Vinny Golia)," ending the album with a churning vortex of blistering energy in tribute to the legendary West Coast scene leader.

Surface Tension is a rarified view into the mind of one of the West Coast's most admired ensemble members. Considering Adams' limited discography outside of Rova, makes this session all the more valuable.

Track Listing: The Another Form in Time Voice; Upper and Lower Partials; Equilibria; Little Ballad; Squeamish; Squelch; Surface Tension; Cacophony (for Vinny Golia).

Personnel: Steve Adams: sopranino, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass flute; Ken Filiano: bass; Scott Amendola: drums.

Title: Surface Tension | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Surface Tension

Surface Tension

Clean Feed Records
2009

buy
 

Ahimsa Orchestra

Nine Winds Records
2006

buy
 

The Other Side of This

Clean Feed Records
2006

buy
 

Circular Logic-Music...

Nine Winds Records
1999

buy

Related Articles

Read We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration Album Reviews
We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
By Mark Corroto
April 25, 2019
Read Golem Dance Album Reviews
Golem Dance
By Friedrich Kunzmann
April 25, 2019
Read New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4 Album Reviews
New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4
By Dan Bilawsky
April 24, 2019
Read Open Form For Society Album Reviews
Open Form For Society
By Mark Corroto
April 24, 2019
Read Yes Album Reviews
Yes
By John Sharpe
April 24, 2019
Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019