3

Jason Robinson: Tiresian Symmetry

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Composer and reed player Jason Robinson tends to weave his musical projects with multiple and overlapping narrative layers, and Tiresian Symmetry is no different. It is more ambitious than his previous large ensemble project, The Two Faces of Janus (Cuneiform, 2010), but still draws inspiration from Greek mythology. This time he was inspired by the mythical story of ancient soothsayer Tiresias, who lived seven lifetimes and, after a fateful series of encounters with copulating snakes, switched genders and then back again.

Robinson uses this story to explore the numerical relationship of seven (the lifetimes of Tiresias) and two (the male and female genders of this mythological prophet—the completing opposites), through asymmetric and contrapuntal structures of melody, harmony and rhythm. Interestingly, Robinson's ensemble instrumentation and arrangements draw inspiration from the influential Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus ensemble of the early nineties, with its double-tuba configuration.

Luckily, this elaborate intellectual background does not burden the music. Robinson's richly nuanced, storytelling compositions are full of freedom, flexibility, inventiveness and humor. These compositions are performed brilliantly by a stellar cast of nine forward-thinking musicians, including reed player Marty Ehrlich, guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Drew Gress and drummer George Schuller, who also played on The Two Faces of Janus.

"Stratum 3," "Radiate" and "Saros" cleverly uses former Threadgill's band mates—tubaists Marcus Rojas and Bill Lowe, along with reed player J.D. Parran and Ellman, to create similarly playful and densely textured music, through propulsive and shifting meters and the inventive pairing of the soloing musicians. The title piece is structured around a hard-swinging groove, rooted by Gress' muscular playing (who also adds an inspired solo), enabling the horn players to soar freely. Robinson's emotional solo sax piece, "Elbow Grease Introduction," outlines the thick narrative for the whole on "Elbow Grease." Gress and Ellman serve as rhythmic catalysts that push the band over the metrically shifting and changing lead roles of "Corduroy." The closing "Cosmolographie" begins with a gentle duet between Robinson and Gress, but soon transforms into a colorful and balanced texture with the whole band, while Robinson and Gress continue nourishing their dense interplay.

Beautiful, inspiring set of expansive compositions.

Track Listing: Stratum 3; Tiresian Symmetry; Radiate; Saros; Elbow Grease; Introduction; Elbow Grease; Corduroy; Cosmolographie.

Personnel: Jason Robinson: tenor sax, alto flute, soprano sax; JD Parran: alto clarinet, contra bass clarinet, tenor sax; Marty Ehrlich: alto sax, bass clarinet, flute; Marcas Rojas: tuba; Bill Lowe: tuba, bass trombone; Liberty Ellman: guitar; Drew Gress: bass; George Schuller: drums; Ches Smith: drums, glockenspiel.

Title: Tiresian Symmetry | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
 

The Two Faces of Janus

Cuneiform Records
2012

buy
 

Tiresian Simmetry

Cuneiform Records
2012

buy
Tiresian Symmetry

Tiresian Symmetry

Cuneiform Records
2012

buy
 

Cerulean Landscape

Clean Feed Records
2011

buy
The Two Faces of Janus

The Two Faces of Janus

Cuneiform Records
2011

buy
Cerberus Reigning

Cerberus Reigning

Accretions
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019
Read Visions Album Reviews
Visions
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 18, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019