Innovative saxophone improviser Jon Raskin continues to put out, on his own label Temescal, never before released sessions from his catalogue. The intriguing Up & Down, Sideways finds him in a quartet with long standing associates, a group that Raskin himself calls the most significant in his career outside of ROVA. This short album consists of a dozen, stimulating, electronically enhanced soundscapes that unfold with an eerie charm.
On "(Plot Line) Allow for Tenderness," Raskin plays a wistful and hypnotic melody on tenor over a droning backdrop that bassist George Cremaschi punctuates with his angular phrases. Percussionist Gino Robair adds unique and cinematic effects with his sparse beats. The ambience bleeds into the immediate follower, "(Plot Line) So Many Questions." Raskin's performance, however, becomes crisper and more dissonant, adding an undercurrent of angst.
Meanwhile "(Plot Line) Some Answers" is more serene with Cremaschi bowing out contemplative lines and Robair contributing resonant tolls and peals. Raskin's saxophone flitters in and out while shrill whistles pierce the enveloping silence. While "(Plot Line) All Kinds of Trouble" features a passionate duet between Raskin and trumpeter Liz Allbee, whose muted and urgent notes mirror the otherworldly electronics. Robair lets loose a rumbling percussion that adds a deep, organicity to the track.
One of the two collectively created pieces, "Virtual Pond," has a tense mood with an agitated and stormy "synthetic" cadence. The music primarily consists of waves of galvanic tones with occasional pops and sparkles. In its abstraction it conjures up unformed images of color shifting loops and coils albeit over a dark and ominous digital canvas. The second ensemble creation, "All Is Not Right," opens with solemn melancholy. Raskin plays a mournful song while screeches interrupt the expectant hum.
The only other non-Raskin composition is Crameaschi's "Unizi l'Arresto." Around the agile and eloquent bass phrases Allbee and Raskin let loose fiery improvisations that simultaneously contrast and complement one another. Both explore the harmonic expanse of their respective instruments to a thrilling effect. Despite their individualities the dialogue is intricately integrated within the fabric of this provocative and dynamic tune.
Up & Down, Sideways is another superb work by one of the most inventive contemporary musicians. Raskin balances his own artistic idiosyncrasy with a "democratically" collaborative style. Having like minded and equally brilliant bandmates helps realize his creative vision.
(Plot Line) Allow For Tenderness; (Plot Line) So Many Questions; Agitating Bubbles; (Plot Line) Some Answers;
Mexican Sage; All Is Not Right; Unizi l’Arresto; (Plot Line) All Kinds Of Troubles; Virtual Pond; 2 + 2 (1); Postcard
Series Two pg2; 2 + 2 (2).
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