When trumpeter/ trombonist Frank Lacy appeared with the Mingus Big Band
this past summer at the Caramoor Jazz Festival, he stole the show in the company of fourteen top-shelf musicians. The live performance venue in which Lacy thrives isn't diminished in the smaller group setting as proven out in the 1032K trio debut That Which Is Planted
. Avant-garde drummer Andrew Drury and bassist Kevin Ray round out a trio that has a deceptively big soundand not by accidentas Lacy notes in 1032K press material. Recorded from live performances in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, the potent dynamics are tangible.
The spirit of Albert Ayler
can be felt looming in the background as 1032K opens with the cover of his "Ghosts." The piece veers between New Orleans swing and all out improvisation with the styles frequently overlapping. Ray plays with the inspiration that one might expect of a musician mentored by the great Andrew Hill
. He employs arco, pizzicato and some grinding effects in a standout extended solo that propels the piece. Drury is never too far into the background as he works in freely improvised but melodic phrases leaving room for occasional silence. He utilizes every part of the drum kit and then some. Joe Ford
's "Give It Some Thought" opens with Ray's bluesy and intricate bass line and Drury lightly riding the cymbals. Lacy switches to a hybrid trumpet for this piece and though he is primarily known as a trombonist, he demonstrates complete command of this cross-bred trumpet/flugelhorn instrument. Back on trombone for Charles Mingus
's "Ecclusiastics," Lacy (also a vocalist) incorporates a familiar spoken-word biblical reading from the ancient book of the same name. His realistic preacher persona is countered by Ray and Drury providing a thoroughly low-down blues backdrop. "BK" takes the dramatically different path with a blistering samba rhythm that eventually morphs into free improvisation. The closing piece, Henry Threadgill
's "Midnight Sun," resets to a moderate tempo but with a sustained tension. Each of the players has ample time to express their individual talents and they play up to the occasion with a combination of eloquence and abandon.
1032K may turn out to be a sporadic project given the workload of these musicians. With diverse resumes that have spanned encounters with Oliver Lake
, Wadada Leo Smith
, Jason Kao Hwang
and Brad Mehldau
, there is little doubt that their assignments will outweigh their bandwidth. Still, it would be great to see this trio capitalize on their own considerable composing skills in a follow up to That Which Is Planted
. For the time being, this inventive, high energy debut is an excellent showcase for three talented and adventurous artists.