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Marc Chénard
On the heels of a release loosely dedicated to Miles Davis (Round 'bout Now on Playscape) drummer, band leader and composer George Schuller issues this CD on one of the many Chicago indies, 482 Music. On this new outing, he has assembled his main band, the Schulldogs, now in its third incarnation, with saxman Tony Malaby, trumpeter Dave Ballou and his stalwart brother Ed on bass. Yet there are added guests here, the top notch violinist Mark Feldman on four of the album's eight tracks, reedist Matt Darriau and trombonist Curtis Hasselbring on three, even Howard Johnson making a couple of cameos on bass clarinet and flute. By and large, this is a very dense side of music, with intricate through-composed passages, free-wheeling improvised forays, both individual and collective, and a very broad sense of tone colors and sonic details. This is not a disc to listen to casually, but one requiring very attentive and focused listening. Neither boldly experimental nor hermetic, there is still an extended range of sonic information to be gleaned here, ranging from a rhythmically propulsive jazz sensibility to free form excursions and contemporary classical chamber music stylings. The latter should be no surprise, of course, given the drummer's illustrious father, and I'm sure the senior Schuller would embrace this as representing what he may well have dreamed about when he first introduced the much maligned Third Stream concept. All in all, a solid release that sits well on the cusp of the "contemporary jazz" idiom.
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