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A member of the acclaimed West Coast based woodwind quartet, “ROVA”, saxophonist Jon Raskin aligns himself with East Coast modern jazz champion, saxophonist/bandleader Tim Berne on The Bass & The Bird Pond. Here the “Jon Raskin Quartet” featuring the monstrous rhythm section of bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Elliot Kavee inscribe a few more pages into the ever-evolving and expansive idiom some of us refer to as “modern jazz”.
The dual alto saxophonists ruminate as if they were belting out some form of the blues on Tim Berne’s “Bloodcount”. Here, maverick styles provide the all-encompassing framework as the listener now comes to the realization that they are about to embark upon a mesmerizing journey which is enacted by bassist Michael Formanek’s stirring, tension riddled strumming. Or perhaps thoughts of a volcano on the brink of eruption as turbulent gases and boiling lava are brewing within its deep cavity! On “Bloodcount”, the music intensifies in climactic fashion as Berne and Raskin sing to the heavens with blazing fury, while pursuing blistering dialogue and punishing unison choruses. Michael Formanek provides the intro to “The Third Path To No Where” with an extended recital featuring a muscular attack embellished by impossibly swift lines and wavering intonation as students of jazz bass may find themselves cringing with envy! Formanek grants rite of passage to Berne and Raskin as the twin altoists surge onward atop feverish rhythms while extrapolating loosely based themes and beaming choruses. Throughout, Berne and Raskin succeed at apprehending our imaginations.......On pieces such as “The Third Path To No Where”, drummer/cellist Elliot Kavee is a colorist or painter who often counterbalances Formanek and the lead soloists via his crafty articulations behind the kit and shrewd utilization of cymbals. Raskin picks up the baritone sax on the composition titled, “Chapter 269, Death” as a curious sense of condemnation shrouds the dirge-like yet sonorous, and resolute choruses.
The Bass & The Bird Pond may serve as a prime example of what four veteran and dare we say – cutting edge – musicians are liable to accomplish as improvisers and composers who collectively tell a story that may seem starkly real to the discerning listener. With this new release, the “Jon Raskin Quartet” grant judicious reasoning to the notions that music can at times parallel life, ideology or perhaps some of our non-conforming ways as the music does indeed, speak for itself in exalted fashion. Highly recommended! * * * * *
Jon Raskin; Alto Sax, Sopranino, Baritone Sax: Tim Berne; Alto Sax: Michael Formanek; Bass: Elliot Kavee; Drums, Cello
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.