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Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz brings a wide ranging sensibility to his compositions. He has a strong feel for mainstream jazz that he pursues and invigorates with a range of free idioms. The music thrives and blossoms, not only in the potency of the mix, but also in its invention and surprise. His band mates enrich the tunes with their own visions even as they acknowledge the written note.
Adasiewicz wrote all the music for this record, except for Andrew Hill's "The Griots." He captures the lilting mood of the melody, explores angularities and then adds his point of view to make for some compelling changes. Forward-thinking Aram Shelton turns up the heat on alto, with phrases that turn the inside out, while Josh Berman swings lithely on cornet, giving the tune a refreshing makeover.
Adasiewicz's originals deftly meld style and genre. On "Hide," bassist Jason Roebke's arco comes in to meet the head set by the ensemble. The body is undefined, the shape constantly altered by the whim of the players. Shelton comes in and turns the approach around with hard bop lines. His tone is brawny yet rich as he ferments ideas with fluid abandon. His lines crisscross with those of Berman in a dizzying amalgam that Berman diffuses into free expression with a flurry of breathy notes before it swings out. It's heavy, it's mainstream and it's pure joy.
The reflective "I Hope She Is Awake" is subtle and elegant. Adasiewicz's tonality is sterling, as is his sense of clarity and movement. The lyricism becomes part of the resources mined by Berman and Shelton. Together they turn in a facile and sophisticated performance.
Adasiewicz has created a beguiling document on Varmint both in the scope of his writing and in the playing of his band Rolldown.
Track Listing: Green Grass; Varmint; Dagger; Hide; I Hope She is Awake; Punchbug; The Griots.
Personnel: Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Josh Berman: cornet; Aram Shelton: alto saxophone, clarinet; Jason Roebke: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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