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Album Review

Jason Stein / Damon Smith / Adam Shead: Volumes & Surfaces


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Jason Stein / Damon Smith / Adam Shead: Volumes & Surfaces
Damon Smith might be the hardest working man in show business. Free-jazz show business, that is. If there is a performance or recording somewhere in the States or Europe, there is a very good chance his double bass is in attendance. You name an improvising artist and he's recorded with them, from Roscoe Mitchell to Joe Morris, Jaap Blonk, Joëlle Léandre, Peter Kowald, Sandy Ewen, Burton Greene, Joe McPhee, Fred Van Hove and Henry Kaiser. The list is practically endless. The reason being, Smith's energy and imagination likewise inexhaustible. All this is evident from the tour he made with Jason Stein and Adam Shead in 2021, documented on the Volumes & Surfaces recording.

The two August dates captured here are both from Chicago, home of the bass clarinetist and drummer. Stein is most likely familiar to you as he has consistently been honored in critic's polls as the top innovator on his instrument and he leads the groups Hearts & Minds, Locksmith Isidore, Nature Work, and the Jason Stein Quartet. Shead is the new name here. He has recently made quite the impact on the Chicago scene, working with Stein, Angel Bat Dawid, Matt Piet, and James Falzone.

The music is undiluted free jazz with energy as its calling card and attention as its driver. Each of the five tracks trades in a mutual exchange. The tender bowed bass notes that open of "Blue Isn't For Sitting" is accompanied by bells and breathy bass clarinet. As the piece progresses, so does the energy. Stein's gentle notes are attended with droning and popping bow work and scraping cymbals. All of which is in service of a group improvisation. This cooperation is heard throughout. Each member of the trio matches pitch on "The Non Dimension Of The Present" cultivating an organic structure that unifies the group and of course the listening experience. Volumes & Surfaces is one exceptional recording.

Track Listing

Heterodox Symmetry; The Deaf Voice Of The Light; Blue Isn't For Sitting; The Non Dimension Of The Present; Clearly, Blue Is For Sitting.


Jason Stein: clarinet, bass; Damon Smith: bass, acoustic; Adam Shead: drums.

Album information

Title: Volumes & Surfaces | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Balance Point Acoustics

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