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Rapid Croche
All About Jazz
Frank Rubolino
Jason Roebke’s initial effort as a leader has substantial merit. The Chicago bassist makes a dominant statement during his encounter with woodwind player Aram Shelton and drummer Tim Daisy. Roebke opens up his bass to its full improvising potential, making the session a collective communion of free sounds. While much of the music gives the impression of being spontaneously devised, there is a guiding hand at work from the compositional side. Roebke authored the entire program, and although his writing suggests direction and tempo, it is received by the listener as being instantly created.

The music overflows with ultra-rich textures, and Roebke propels the action through the penetrating sonority he jarringly expels from the bass. His microphone level is equal in intensity to Shelton’s, which allows his deep, booming voice to flood the soundscape with vibrant potency.

Shelton alternates between alto saxophone and clarinet, and on each piece he moves into deeply adventurous territory. His experiments are not wild undertakings; Shelton takes a measured approach in building his solos with meaningful phasing and an unrushed tempo. Meanwhile, Roebke makes the tunes awash in resonant bass responses in either the pizzicato or arco mode. Daisy, as the third member of this triumvirate, plays with the wind at his back. He is a spirited drummer who offers counter-rhythms and responsive impetus to the set. On certain tunes, such as “It’s Enough,” he opens the throttle to full and explodes with energy; yet he takes a more subtle approach on several cuts where the mood is tempered.

When Shelton is playing clarinet, the music takes on somber characteristics, while his alto action brings out the more boisterous side of the band. These slower clarinet cuts really show off Roebke’s voluminous contributions and let his throbbing tones ring out with emphatic clarity. Although the trio playing is fully cohesive, it is interesting to attempt to separate the instruments aurally. This exercise permits one to hear the purity in Roebke’s improvisations as a concert unto itself. The dedicated concentration works for all three musicians, yet the combined magnitude of their playing is logically interwoven.

Spirit, zeal, and a searching soul aptly describe the efforts of Roebke on this date. His music offers an exciting challenge to seekers of what’s new under the sun.

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