Free Range Rat
John Carlson (a former Either/ Orchestra member), Eric Hipp, Shawn McGloin and George Schuller call “cosmosonic jazz” to the music they play with this quartet that was already a duo and a trio (special guest Douglas Yates is the fifth element here), in tribute to Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Arkestra.
And that’s why a very well known composition (“The Satellites Are Spinning”) by the first to use synthesizers in jazz, Herman P. Blount, aka Sun Ra, is one of the highlights of “Free Range Rat!”. Other covers are the harmolodic guitarrist James Blood Ulmer’s suite in two parts “Non Believer” and the reggae hymn “So Much Trouble in the World”, by Bob Marley. This is free jazz in its most alive encarnation, with the tonic in spontaneous improvisation and power trance rhythmics.
In this aspect, the role of George Schuller drumming is a fundamental one. Son of the third stream theoricist, composer and orchestrator Gunther Schuller, his mastery with the sticks was the common characteristic in the music of top names like Jaki Byard, Ran Blake, Joe Lovano, Lee Konitz, George Adams and Dave Douglas, among others. He’s equally proficient in all jazz styles, revealing a strong sense of history and idiomatic continuum.
He manages to give form to what seems to be chaotic, and that organizing hability is amply profited in this record. Even when Schuller is not playing, like in “Horn Trio #2”, where we find only the trumpet (Carlson), the tenor saxophone (Hipp) and the clarinet (Yates), we know his influence is at work.