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Formal constructs melt into freer passages, sometimes to return, sometimes not. The collective White Rocket traverses the notated and improvised on its ambitious eponymous debut. Trumpeter Jacob Wick met pianist Greg Felton and drummer Sean Carpio at the Banff Centre for Jazz and Creative Music; their easy affinity permeates the performances. With atypical instrumentation, the musicians create a unique sound of imaginative breadth and, as a true cooperative; each comfortably alternates between lead and support.
On the opening "Mutatis Mutandis," Wick takes flight first over an oblique piano harmony that emerges from the thorny head. Felton pounds and Carpio bashes, heightening the intensity before abruptly stopping for a subdued drum fade. Felton's "His Story" boasts a quirky, staccato theme that the pianist maintains as he solos. Repeating rhythmic phrases form the foundation for several pieces, with the musicians modulating and improvising off them to avoid stasis. A minimal piano starts "Symptoms," the trumpet joining for a cyclic patter that blossoms into a fuller dramatic arc, with angular piano runs and plaintive brass wails.
Piano filigree punctuates the regal trumpet theme of "Lonely Toad," offering contrast to the rhythmic compositions. The mournful narrative of "The Fisherman's Song" finds Wick unaccompanied for about three minutes, varying his timbre with blats, buzzing and slurred notes, as the piano and drums subtly enter. The trumpeter is by turns breathy and blaring over the percussive piano of "Recent Events," a tune that shows the musicians' sense of humor with a stop-time "CD-skipping" transition. Absent a bassist, Felton often covers the low end with bass-like lines, as on "Hone" and the epic "Susan Styra." Wick mirrors the latter's staggering piano line and the piece wends to a concluding earthy drum feature, Carpio alluding to the form as he fills.
Track Listing: Mutatis Mutandis; His Story; Recent Events; Hone; Lonely Toad; Susan Styra; Symptoms; Sung Once; The Fisherman's Song.
Personnel: Greg Felton: piano; Sean Carpio: drums; Jacob Wick: trumpet.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.