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Ambit: The Cellar and Point

Glenn Astarita By

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Childhood buddies, drummer Joseph Branciforte and guitarist Christopher Botta should easily heighten their nascent reputations in the jazz community with this classy gem, marking their collaborative debut. Call it garage-chamber with doses of jazz and progressive rock amid some Americana infused treatments, this seamless program also includes members of contemporary classical ensembles, JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, TRANSIT and Signal Ensemble.

The musicians interlace a hodgepodge of crossover applications, whether it's a thrusting King Crimson style like vamp with offbeat metrics, meticulously crafted ostinatos and rubato strings passages on the opener "0852,"or on other tracks where dreamy melodic hooks come to the forefront. Electric guitarist and revered improviser Terrance McManus shreds within various movements via bone-crunching chop chords and rippling sustain patterns. At times the band surfaces like a large ensemble version of The Claudia Quintet but for the most part, characterizations and comparisons to other units bridging multi-genre facets together would be slim to none.

"Purple Octagon" features zinging guitar harmonics and Botta's peppery use of brushes and Joe Bergen's sleek vibes patterns to formulate the primary theme, complemented by an articulately modeled arrangement, intercepted by the strings performers. Moreover, the ensemble shifts the storyline, followed by grunge-like guitar licks and circular phrasings, leading to a phantasmagoric string of events tinted with airy overlays. The following piece "Funf Canons I, Op. 16" could illicit imagery of a good-natured nightmare if there is such a beast. Here, the ensemble renders haunting melodramas with a quirky and complex spin on classical rock, embedded with tricky time signatures. And they close the album out with "Ambit," highlighted by low register choruses, electronics effects, accenting strings and a menacing vibe. It's an ambit—ious and extraordinarily impressive rendezvous by these visionary artistes.

Track Listing: 0852; Arc; Tabletop (a); Tabletop (b); Ruminant; Purple Octagon; Fünf Canons; I, op. 16; étude xv; White Cylinder (a); White Cylinder (b); Ambit.

Personnel: Chris Botta: Guitar; Joe Branciforte: Drums; Terrance McManus: Guitar; Christopher Otto: Violin; Jack McFarland: Cello; Joe Bergen: vibraphone;Rufus Philpot: Bass.

Title: The Cellar and Point | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

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