Drummer Tomas Fujiwara is all over the progressive jazz map the past several years as a member of Thumbscrew with guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Michael Formanek amid support duties for poll-winning flutist Nicole Mitchell and a host of disparate projects and recordings. Here, Fujiwara assembles a double trio lineup, featuring Halvorson and other notables that also shines a bright light on his shrewd compositional prowess and strong leadership skills, as the band projects an uplifting modality throughout. Simply put, it's a beaut!
There are numerous instances where Halvorson and fellow guitar whiz Brandon Seabrook use distortion techniques, unwieldy phrasings and some grunge jazz type licks to escalate the proceedings into no man's land. And hornists Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet) and Ralph Alessi (trumpet) often state the primary themes with gobs of tension-building improv and ventures into the free realm. Nonetheless, the sextet covers quite a few contrasting musical outlines. For example, the opener "Diving for Quarters" is built on the guitarists' bizarre dialogues, leading to a rangy blues motif, tinted with experimental soundscapes, elevated by Fujiwara and drummer Gerald Cleaver's gargantuan presence.
There are some movements where psycho guitar riffs ride above rumbling drum patterns and climactic cadenzas, yet the band does alternate various currents with lighthearted diversions. However, "Pocket Pass" is an off-kilter free bop piece, marked by an upbeat and swaggering groove and "For Alan," is a dual drumming workout featuring a recording of ten-year old Fujiwara having a lesson with legendary jazz drummer and educator Alan Dawson who bestows advice about improvising and timekeeping fundamentals.
The sextet engages Avant jazz rock on "Decisive Shadow" and "Toasting the Mart," enacted by muted horns, echoing guitar licks, rapid flurries, buoyant march progressions and Seabrook's flickering single note lines, spiced with EFX and sequences augmented with vaporizing thematic etudes. Indeed, the ensemble produces thrills a minute, akin to a manifold Hollywood action thriller. *A top pick for 2017 (Strongly recommended).
Diving For Quarters; Blueberry Eyes; Hurry Home B/G; Pocket Pass; For Alan; Lover And Protest; Decisive Shadow; Hurry Home M/T; Toasting The Mart; To Hours.
Tomas Fujiwara: drums; Gerald Cleaver: drums; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Brandon Seabrook: guitar; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet.