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Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown: Varmint

Mark Corroto By

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Jason Adasiewicz's quintet Rolldown, has been together since 2004, and Varmint, its second release, again invites you into Mr. Peabody's "wayback machine" (from The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show of the 1960s) to explore ancient history with a modern ear. That ancient history is the 1960's New Thing, and our explorers are armed with the knowledge of just how that story ended.

Adasiewicz, a prime player in the continual resurgence of Chicago jazz, can be heard with Josh Berman (Old Idea), The Lucky &'s, Rob Mazurek's quintet and Exploding Star Orchestra, Mike Reed (Loose Assembly) and James Falzone (Klang). The same supporting cast as the first disc, Rolldown (482 Music, 2008), grace this session—Berman (cornet), Aram Shelton (alto saxophone and cornet), Jason Roebke (bass), and Frank Rosaly (drums). Where the writing on the first disc was drawn on multiple influences, Varmint bears the vibraphonist's personal signature.

That signature is heard on the six originals and a cover of Andrew Hill's "The Griot," perhaps the closest composer to Adasiewicz's voice, with both prefering the odd angle and shifting progression. The title track best exemplifies this approach; Adasiewicz utilizes a hearty swing, but the ground underneath is never solid, as time morphs when Adasiewicz shades Berman or Shelton. Distracted by these fine players, it's possible to miss the time changes. Even "Dagger," featuring Shelton on clarinet, is stealthy with its old-time feel. Adasiewicz's demur solo, shy on the pyrotechnics, focuses on a minimalist color scheme. Elsewhere he goes toe-to-toe with the band in "Hide" and "Punchbug," a modal tune poem that meanders with eager wanderlust.

With his Rolldown concept now established, the sky is the limit for Adasiewicz.


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 and clarinet; Jason Roebke: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.

Title: Varmint | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

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