Jazztimes review by Susan Frances

CF 151Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces Of Old Sky (CF 151)
Trombonist/composer Samuel Blaser tells in a recent press release, “I’m proof that a shiny trombone can send a message right to your heart and change your life.” His efforts with his quartet on Pieces Of Old Sky show the many moods that the trombone can depict from the sorrowful groans in the title track to the vaunting sprints in “Red Hook.” Joining Blaser on the recording are guitarist Todd Neufeld, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey who twine their lines affectionately around Blaser’s sprawling notes. Each track consists of multiple movements creating dynamic shifts and curves along the chord progressions that change the perspective of the trombone.

The emotive strokes sketched by Blaser’s trombone produce poignant punctuations and steep fluctuations in the melodic currents and shift the conditions of the harmonies becoming quite obtuse and angular in sections of “Red Hook” and fluid in “Chorale II.” The languid gait of the trombone in “Chorale I” projects a dismal mood, which peps up slightly along the slippery slopes of “Mystical Circle.” The heaviness of the trombone’s notes chisel voluminous vibrations resonating along “Mandata,” and satiny quivers sauntering across “Speed Game.” The album closes with the buttery strokes of “Chorale II” producing serene atmospherics and pacifying tones folding into each other.

Blaser’s quartet shows a mild manner and thoughtfulness for each other’s lines that is inspiring. Swiss-born Samuel Blaser displays an insightful understanding of the many moods that the trombone is capable of projecting making it a tool for jazz music in a way that no other instrument is unable to do.

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