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Rapid Croche
Greg Buium
Rapid Croche, the debut recording from bassist Jason Roebke's trio, bears a resemblance to earlier incarnations of American improvised music. Maybe it's because the principals here are so young - Roebke is 29, reeds player Aram Shelton and drummer Tim Daisy are 27. Or maybe it's because they're based in Chicago, where it seems every generation comes steeped in in some part of that city's musical past. Blindfolded, you might think Rapid Croche is an early Delmark date or an AACM splinter group.

But that's not entirely fair. This trio isn't a static thing. They listen to each other and to all kinds of different sounds and if Roebke is at the heart of the matter then let's use two master bassists, Charlie Haden and Fred Hopkins, as points of reference. The unmistakeable melancholy and busy, commanding energy seem to speak in turn to Haden's and Hopkins' influences. We might characterize Shelton's performance by its unending series of queries, issued in an unassuming voice that often sits just a step off-key. Daisy, however, is all about connections; he draws the smallest links with a phrase and makes modest percussive motion swing.

Not everything works. Some melodies feel like schoolwork, and a multipart composition, "Whatever You Think is Beautiful," with its wide intervals and gothic moods, feels too thought out. Still, there's a comfortable quality that softens the uneven moments. The most memorable spell begins with "It's Enough," a smoldering piece of drama that grooves despite its generic head. "Like You Thought It Might Be" features an ecstatic bounce that levels a bland line.

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