Point of departure review by Stuart Broomer


RIDD Quartet – Fiction Avalanche (CF 121)
The RIDD Quartet is a Brooklyn-based band that consists of Jon Irabagon on alto, Kris Davis on piano, Reuben Radding on bass and Jeff Davis on drums. This is the group’s first recording and the genre might be described as free jazz. Each piece of music is attributed to the entire group, which suggests collective improvisation, but there are often more formal elements at work than that would suggest. “Paoli” is among the most predetermined, with Irabagon developing a strong melodic lead and Kris Davis creating a repeating ostinato. There’s similar patterning in “The Five Ways,” with Kris Davis elaborating a dissonant and recirculating filigree against Irabagon’s high frequencies. The music is deeply traditioned, though not in the sense of pastiche that marks Irabagon’s membership in Mostly Other People Do the Killing. The opening “False Aura” – notable for its concision – has the saxophonist generating a monotone rhythmic motif that resembles “C-Jam Blues,” the rest of the quartet chiming in with an energetic rhythmic confluence reminiscent of an early (pre-1962) Cecil Taylor group, the Davises sharing a fondness for densely-knit polyrhythmic figures. Irabagon’s use of extended techniques often seem to echo saxophone practices in Rhythm and Blues bands; thus when the group seems most outside, it’s likeliest to end up in the hard-core blues, “Monkey Catcher” being worthy of Julius Hemphill or Tim Berne. There’s more fluency with form in the extended “Sky Circles,” which builds from genuinely lyric reflection to intense collective dialogue. It’s usually Irabagon and Kris Davis who are front and center, but it’s unquestionably a band, propelled along nicely by Radding and Jeff Davis, who supply consistent stimulus and commentary. It’s a fine group, consistently musical, with a distinctive predilection for knotting formal elements.

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