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Stephan Crump: Tuckahoe

David Adler By

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Stephan Crump represents a new breed of bassist/bandleader/composer, one who asks himself and his listeners to entertain new ideas about what jazz can be and where it can go. He released his previous recording, Poems and Other Things, on his own Papillon Sounds label, enlisting the talents of pianist Roberta Piket, saxophonist Chris Cheek, and drummer Rob Garcia. Now he follows up with Tuckahoe, keeping Cheek on board and adding alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, guitarist Jamie Fox, and drummer Dan Rieser. (Together, this lineup performed live at regular intervals during the course of 2000.) The new compositions borrow from a wide variety of stylistic influences, from country-tinged folk to Latin to reggae. But holding it all together is Crump’s uncompromising individualism, an expressive core that elicits inspired improvisation from all involved.

You can hear Crump’s unique musical persona in the contrapuntal mysteries of the opening track, "Dega," the free Latin feeling of "Deluge" (shades of Ornette with Dewey Redman), the slow soul-shuffle of "Hazy Days." You can hear the band’s fine-tuned chemistry in the music’s subtlest moments, such as Cheek’s harmonizing entrance toward the end of "Here’s a Goodbye," or Zenon’s key-waving effect on the concluding melody of "Stolid," or Rieser’s exquisitely sensitive drumming under Crump’s solo on "Allende." The compositional variety, for that matter, never ceases to expand. Cheek’s soprano sax colors the beautiful "Eweslepe," while Fox’s versatility is on full display during the rock-influenced title track, the hybridized country of "The Clowns Go Marching On," and the quiet jazz waltz (and closing trio feature) "Dance of the Infidels."

Crump is equally at home crafting dark dissonance, tender melodies, or driving tempos. With Tuckahoe, he issues the next chapter in his musical journey, giving us a well-wrought portrait of his talents as a composer and bandleader.

Track Listing: 1. Dega 2. Allende 3. Hazy Days 4. Here

Personnel: Chris Cheek, tenor and soprano sax; Miguel Zenon, alto sax; Jamie Fox, guitar; Stephan Crump, double bass; Dan Rieser, drums

Title: Tuckahoe | Year Released: 2001

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