Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – A Calculus of Loss (CF 104)
While there are quite a few players that double on the bass clarinet, few practitioners claim the instrument as their sole means of communication. One rare bird is Chicagoan Jason Stein, who makes his debut as a leader on this trio outing. Despite being a frequent collaborator on the young Chicago scene, Stein is just getting his name out on record. His first significant exposure came as a member of Ken Vandermark’s Bridge 61 quartet, though subsequent work on records by both Keefe Jackson and Kyle Bruckmann suggest a player seeking a new direction on his instrument.On this revealing, stripped-down affair, Stein and his collaborators communicate on six pieces that place his instrument in an explorative mode, one that perfectly matches his expressive peers. The muted, but energetic, “Nurse Ellen” encourages the group’s textural musings with Stein demonstrating his inquisitive demeanor, as his collaborators snap, crackle and drive forward, a route also taken on “167th St. Ellen.” The lengthiest excursion, “Caroline & Sam,” offers perhaps the most revealing perspective on the group, matching Pride’s forceful drums and, later, vibes-work that highlights the collective sound exploration and quiet beauty.From another direction is the elastic vamp of “Miss Izzy,” with Stein’s burnished, gruff hornwork filling out the dots. Stein also demonstrates more accessible notions, though admittedly of his own design, on the wiry swing of “That’s Not a Closet,” as well as the lovely introspection on the brief poem, “J.K. 01.” What A Calculus Of Loss demonstrates is the emergence of a new voice on an often overlooked instrument with promises of a very exciting future.
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