Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Joshua Abrams Quartet: Unknown Known

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns—there are things we do not know we don't know." Strangely, Donald Rumsfeld didn't mention the unknown known: the things we don't acknowledge that we know. While the sleeve notes contain no reference to the former Secretary of State, the choice of title for the début by Chicago bassist Joshua Abrams' Quartet makes the connection inevitable. Of course, in one sense, the procedure of improvisation is an attempt to unlock new things which we don't think we know. It's an approach which the bassist airs thoroughly on the six cuts which constitute this disc.

Abrams proves an intriguing composer, working through both known and unknown constructs, often corralling several novel gambits into one title. He has chosen with care his collaborators from the Windy City's fertile scene. On tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, David Boykin is one of the town's better kept secrets, largely flying below the wider critical radar in spite of his long association with flautist Nicole Mitchell. His sinewy lines, with more than a hint of a young Sonny Rollins, often hew close to the lower registers where they contrast with the ringing vibes of Jason Adasiewicz. There can't be too many vibraphonists who can hold their own with reed titan Peter Brötzmann as Adasiewicz has on more than one occasion, and his shimmering counterpoint keeps options wide open harmonically, while the physicality he brings to his instrument makes for a powerful solo voice.

Abrams doesn't make himself prominent, but meshes closely with drummer Frank Rosaly, as the pair switch in and out of tempo with practised smoothness. Rosaly also confirms himself an inventive texturalist, adding an important ingredient to the leader's conception. On the title track, different time signatures between drums and bass overlap to create an uneasy momentum which spawns a potent freeform passage for the rhythm team before being abetted by Boykin's tenor skronk. The uncompromising stance continues via a scratchy bowed bass/squawking tenor duet, before finally resolving into a stately unison theme. Such multiple episodes also characterize the following "Boom Goes the Moon," before a second half which evolves into a lilting ballad in which the reedman drifts and soars majestically.

Thereafter matters become slightly more predictable. "Settle Down" starts at a lope with a nagging bass clarinet refrain, before opening out for some spirited work from tenor and vibes, while the brief "Pool" features gently swinging tenor over a faster tempo. "Leavening" is more of a surprise, possessing a ritual feel, accentuated by Rosaly's off kilter stomp and the leader's vocalized arco. It also boasts Boykin's strongest outing of the set, as he surges over a choppy pulse until edging into the falsetto range to finish. While all perfectly enjoyable, it is on the less straightforward, lesser-known tracks where the ensemble grabs the attention most.

Track Listing: Unknown Known; Boom Goes the Moon; Settle Down; Look Through It; Leavening; Pool.

Personnel: Joshua Abrams: bass; Jason Adasiewicz: vibes; David Boykin: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Frank Rosaly: drums.

Title: Unknown Known | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Rogue Art

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Without You CD/LP/Track Review
Without You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Internal Combustion CD/LP/Track Review
Internal Combustion
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Chant Triptych II CD/LP/Track Review
Chant Triptych II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Oasis CD/LP/Track Review
Oasis
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Les Oiseaux de Matisse CD/LP/Track Review
Les Oiseaux de Matisse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 19, 2018
Read Drum Solos For Dancers Only CD/LP/Track Review
Drum Solos For Dancers Only
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read "Roscanna" CD/LP/Track Review Roscanna
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 1, 2018
Read "Picture in Black and White" CD/LP/Track Review Picture in Black and White
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 15, 2018
Read "Frescalalto" CD/LP/Track Review Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read "Another World" CD/LP/Track Review Another World
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 6, 2018
Read "For Gyumri" CD/LP/Track Review For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Fullmoon" CD/LP/Track Review Fullmoon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 25, 2018