Rob Brown Trio – Sounds (CF 077)
Altoist Rob Brown’s latest, entitled, simply enough, Sounds, features the multi-talented and flexible Daniel Levin on cello and Satoshi Takeishi on a variety of percussion instruments. Brown, who’s been recording forward-thinking small group music since the ‘80s, notes in the CD liners that the advantage of using a cello and percussion instead of bass and drums “allows the listener to hear … with fewer preconceptions,” in addition to allowing him to write music “that is more open, in terms of style, genre etc.” The good news here on Sounds is that he’s right on both counts. Better yet is that besides the boundary-busting nature of the personnel, there is a colloquial earthiness that lets a listener in on the conversation without need of any prior initiation. Brown’s three-part “Sounds” is a suite originally written for dance and visual art, and, not surprisingly, it is the most delicate and impressionistic of the bunch. That is except for part II, a very much inthe- pocket, pseudo-boogaloo with a chatty head that sets the leader on course to deliver a slightly raspy, controlled rant that is nothing short of fun. “Stutter Step,” which Brown describes as “the most traditionally free-Jazz sounding (piece) in the program,” gives him a chance to flash some serious technical chops, all while Levin and Takeishi sputter and bump against each other. The only time I found myself wandering was on “Sinew,” a slow-moving piece I found a tad too torturous for my palette. But “Tibetan Folk Song,” with Levin laying down what could pass for an avant-garde Motown bass line, and “Moment of Pause,” a lighthearted, whimsical boppish stroll that bears a certain similarity to “Days of Wine and Roses,” more than compensate for any possible shortcoming.Rob Brown writes “These days the boundaries that define how a Jazz group plays are really disappearing (although I do still consider this a Jazz group).” I concur.
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