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James Falzone - The Renga Ensemble: The Room Is

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "Until"

Enterprising Chicago-based clarinetist James Falzone and a core band of fellow improvisers signal a modern day avant-jazz summit, inspired by the leader's affinity for Renga, which is a Japanese poetic tradition where 2 or more poets work in parallel to produce a new work. Falzone yields dividends by enlisting an ensemble, featuring prominent trailblazers of the modern era's improvising circuit such as Ken Vandermark, Ben Goldberg, Ned Rothenberg and others of note. The performers' inner-workings are implanted within a holistic viewpoint, spanning stark minimalism, classical inferences and jazz with asymmetrical parts, structure and freedom. At times the musicians veer off into subgroups and explore numerous concepts via muscular unison choruses, playful breakouts, curvy dialogues and solemn inquisitions.

"Until" is the album's lengthiest work, clocking in at 13-minutes. Here, the sextet stops, starts and generates an airy environ with rests in between choruses amid many contrasts, given the artists' varied selection of clarinets and saxophones. They delve into a surfeit of exploratory processes, shaped with contemplative and microtonal etudes and a primary theme engineered with a vertical trajectory. They mix it up with verbose exchanges while also converging and splitting themes into micro-fragments. Towards closeout , Jason Stein, Keefe Jackson and Vandermark engage in a whirling bass clarinet cadenza as the band eventually goes all over the map with fiery exchanges. Thus, each piece poses its own set of circumstances and not solely centered on wild escapades or laborious journeys without an endpoint or zenith. There are quite a few moving parts as an irrefutable sense of excitement underscores the overall proceedings.

Track Listing:

Personnel: James Falzone: Bb and Eb clarinets; Ken Vandermark: Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, contra Bb bass clarinet; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Ben Goldberg: Bb clarinet, contra Eb alto clarinet; Ned Rothenberg: Bb clarinet, alto saxophone.

Title: The Room Is | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Allos Documents


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