Broo/Lane/Nilssen-Love/Vandermark – 4 Corners (CF 076)
The quartet on “4 Corners” is an ad hoc setting culled from three live sets Vandermark, trumpet player Magnus Broo, bassist Adam Lane, and Nilssen-Love played during the 2006 Jazz ao Centro festival in Coimbra, Portugal. While this was a first-time meeting for all four, the trumpet player and drummer play together in the group Atomic which toured and played with Vandermark’s group School Days. Though Lane hadn’t played with any of the others before, the four are able to find common ground around the compositions. Half of the pieces are by Vandermark and the other half are by Lane, and it s easy to tell them apart. Lane provides Free Bop hemes and the four use them as the basis for loose blowing. Vandermark’s pieces are more tructural forms with propulsive bass and drums arts that kick things along with boisterous energy. This is a muscular affair, with Vandermark on bari sax, bass clarinet, and clarinet blowing hard against Broo’s acrobatic trumpet. Though the reed player pushes hard, it is Broo’s lithe, free melodicism that really shines through. Lane’s bass often sounds like it is being processed by electronics as he throws things into overdrive, goading the others along with swaths of wild, distorted arco. Lane’s themes give the group a bit more to dig in to, though it may be that they just didn’t have enough time to get comfortable with Vandermark’s structures. There’s solid playing all around, and I’m sure that this sounded great live, but it comes off more as an energetic summit than a true ensemble.