Mixing ingredients in a cauldron and coming up with the appetizing can yield a work of art. Thomson Kneeland, the leader and bassist of Kakalla, succeeds admirably in bringing together chamber music, European music, and a bit of rock with a compact jazz sensibility into a remarkable whole that at once grabs attention and draws the listener into its core. Kneeland has pursued this over the course of three albums with Kakalla, tweaking the lineup between a quartet and a quintet, to give his music the edge and the body it needs.
Kakalla has a long history. The group played every Wednesday night for four and a half years in Worcester, Massachusetts. Add other performances over three years and these players have over 200 live dates to their credit. If that does not bring about closeness and, consequently, a distilling of ideas and perceptions, then probably nothing else will. The music here, and the way in which it unravels, shows how the band works to bring about an effective resolution to the compositions.
Kneeland's bass makes a fine takeoff point. He uses the drone of the arco when it comes time for "Sir Charles's Transmogrification,"? the spirit of chamber music rising slowly, before the cymbals crish into the fold and the change becomes full-bodied and intense. Electronics add to the effect, not quite eerie but palpitating into a beat that gains momentum and presents a bed for Jerry Sabatini, whose trumpet describes bends and curlicues and then prances happily. Kneeland's one, two, three beat ushers in the brightness that greets "The Ghosts of Dirty Laundry."? But ghostly apparitions change shape, and so does the music that dissolves into free expression. Form is porous and into the space comes the cart wheeling tenor of Jason Hunter. There is no stasis here, and all for the better!
By the time they get to the last track, "The Farthest Shore,"? Kakalla has made some defining statements. This tune has an air of sadness, the trumpet raising its voice in melancholic song. The underlying yearning is fragmented when Sabatini brightens the atmosphere and kicks the tune into high gear with Nate Radley and Mike Connors. The beat goes on, and may there be more.
Track Listing: Sir Charlesís Transmogrification; The Ghosts of Dirty Laundry; Caustic Raptures of the Cloven Hoof; The Sea, The Bells; The Refraction of Helios; Maleficent Oblations to a God of Benevolence; The Death of Sysyphus; The Grand Inquisitor; From These Hands, Sadness Flows; The Farthest Shore
Personnel: Thomson Kneeland?: acoustic bass, electronics; Mike Connors?: drums, percussion; Jerry Sabatini:
trumpet (except 7); Nate Radley?: guitar, electronics (except 6); Jason Hunter: tenor sax on 2
Year Released: 2005
| Record Label: Weltschmerz Records
| Style: Modern Jazz