Joe Fiedler Trio – The Crab (CF 092)
On Joe Fiedler’s second release for the gutsy Clean Feed label (Disclosure: This writer wrote the liners for the first release), he shifts focus from a Mangelsdorff tribute to a set of diverse originals through which he leads an all-star trio. Fiedler is one of a group of extraordinary trombonists such as Steve Swell, Jeb Bishop, Wolter Wierbos, and Gianluca Petrella who are proficient in a broad range of genres and who are comfortable pushing the edges of technique. Fiedler does it by melding the multiphonics he highlighted on his first album with pedal notes, against-the-grain blowing, growls, muted tones, dramatic changes in dynamics, while alternating between fast runs and slow-paced tones. Fiedler’s rich, focused, full sound predominates, while bassist John Hebert and drummer Michael Sarin add considerable depth in mostly supporting and complementary roles. The Crab offers many sides of Fiedler. The fast and exciting “Don’t Impede the Stream” displays some multiphonics and fuzzy toned runs on the ‘bone, with hard and fast drums. The slower-paced “A Frankfurter in Caracas” shows Fiedler’s acumen with the mute, as he navigates the lower registers with Hebert’s smashing string bass behind him. And, what a melody on “H.B.,” as the trombonist is all over his horn, with multi-phonics, altered velocity, and angular lines. The melody grabs you, too, on the alluring and attractive opener, “The Crab,” taken at mid-tempo with an outstanding solo from Hebert on bass. There is also the obligatory homage to Mangelsdorff on the slow and passionate “For Albert,” with a beautiful bass solo and a gorgeous trombone improvisation. Trombone, string bass, and drums might be difficult listening for some, but Fiedler once again shows a mastery of his horn and an ability to trump technique with a focus on musicality, pointing a way toward the future of the trombone. It would be fascinating to hear what he could do with a larger ensemble, both as a writer and as a soloist.
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