Chicago Jazz album of the week
Tempus fugit. It seems like only yesterday, and not a decade ago, when an influx of fresh blood -- players like Ken Vandermark, Jim O'Rourke, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and others -- revitalized Chicago's improv scene, continuing and extending the groundwork laid by the AACM, Hal Russell, Fred Anderson, chief among the previous generation of pioneering improvisers. Now new, still younger players are joining the mix, aware of their elders but adding new perspectives. 'Rapid Croche ' (482 Music) showcases a trio with loads of potential, under the leadership of bassist Jason Roebke. Drummer Tim Daisy is a tasteful, understated player who likes to reinforce the rhythmic accents of the melodic line, shadowing the sinewy, tensile phrasing of clarinetist/alto saxophonist Aram Shelton. Roebke composed the eight themes -- mostly contemplative, with jagged or twisting contours -- and weaves slippery bass lines around Shelton's restrained commentaries. To their credit, this is not just another high-intensity blowing band, but a tight trio that compresses energy into focused counterpoint and concise arrangements. Chicago influences emerge -- at times they're reminiscent of the great late-'70s/early-'80s trio Air ("Just Before It Starts," for example, and the active drums, evoking Air's Steve McCall, layered above the slow bass-and-clarinet unison of "Whatever You Think Is Beautiful"), but there are also hints of Anthony Braxton (via the melody, but not development, of "It's Enough") and Roscoe Mitchell (Shelton's work, tonally and conceptually, on "Like You Thought It Might Be") in the group's thoughtful demeanor. If they stick together they could forge a real ensemble identity, rare in this day of constantly shuffling personnel. They're off to a strong start.
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