104

Jim Robitaille Group: To Music

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jim Robitaille Group: To Music Without taking away from the fact that guitarist Jim Robitaille is obviously his own man, it is a refreshing change to see someone who has obviously spent a lot of time studying John Abercrombie, who, while certainly a well-known name in modern jazz, regrettably doesn’t seem to have the same kind of popular clout as, say, Pat Metheny or John Scofield. And that’s too bad, because in many ways he is a broader player than both, yet still with a distinctly recognizable voice. But enough about Abercrombie... what Robitaille has done with To Music is release a remarkable album of modern post-bop that puts together some musical compatriots with the also under-recognized saxophonist Dave Liebman, who is, quite simply, on fire on this recording of largely original compositions.

Take “Freedom Waltz.” By exploring a format that is dear to the heart of Abercrombie but putting it in a more modal context, Robitaille delivers a piece that is reverential but more on fire than one might expect. Liebman explores post-Coltrane territory but with his own language that is equally expressionistic, but less abrasive. And Robitaille delivers a solo that combines the Abercrombie reference with a taste of Scofield, circa Live (1977) and Rough House by using a clean, warm tone and harmonic language that comfortably takes things just the slightest bit out to create a delicious sense of tension.

That Robitaille is a fine guitarist is without question, but what distinguishes him further is his writing, which challenges within a strongly swinging context. “Parallels” swings hard, with a set of changes that would leave most guitarists in their wake. A number of Robitaille’s compositions have won numerous compositional awards, and it’s easy to see why. His roots are clear, but he writes clever, heady charts that nevertheless provide a lot of meat for passionate group interplay. Liebman, whether playing tenor on “Parallels” or soprano on “Arthur C,” elevates what would be a fine session into the realm of outstanding.

The rest of the group may not be known, but they deserve to be. Pianist Matt Richard is a strong soloist and even better accompanist, with shades of Richie Beirach tying him to Robitaille’s Abercrombie and early Scofield connections. Bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Chris Poudrier anchor things and generate a sense of intensity without ever overplaying.

A frontrunner for début of the year, but the only question, given that this session was recorded three years ago, is where is Robitaille today? How have his compositional and playing skills evolved? With as strong a set as To Music as a basis, one can only imagine where he is now. And hopefully there will not be as wide a gap between his next recording session and its release, so that we can find out soon enough.

Visit Jim Robitaille and Whaling City Sound on the web.


Track Listing: Freedom Waltz; Arthur C; Parallels; Adagio; West End Strut; Hypnotic Nights; Miro; Yesterdays; Lost and Found

Personnel: Jim Robitaille (electric and acoustic guitars), Dave Liebman (tenor and soprano saxophone), Matt Richard (piano), Dave Zinno (bass), Chris Poudrier (drums)

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Wet Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Wet Paint
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Honey For The Biscuit" CD/LP/Track Review Honey For The Biscuit
by James Nadal
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons" CD/LP/Track Review Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Emergence" CD/LP/Track Review Emergence
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 15, 2016
Read "The Incomparable Fiddler" CD/LP/Track Review The Incomparable Fiddler
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!