Point of Departure review by Stuart Broomer


Ken Filiano Quantum Entanglements – Dreams from a Clown Car (CF 207)
Ken Filiano is an outstanding bassist, propulsive and consistently inventive, as adept with a bow as he is playing pizzicato. He’s an elastic player, too, moving from more mainstream approaches to free improvisation.  He’s been a backbone of both West and East Coast free jazz scenes, witness his frequent presence on Nine Winds and CIMP recordings respectively.  He has released duos with Steve Adams of ROVA and with vocalist Bonnie Barnett (the latter called Trio for Two), and a fine solo disc called Subvenire, but Dreams from a Clown Car, recorded in 2008, marks a genuine departure. It’s Filiano’s belated debut as a bandleader and principal composer and it’s a major achievement. The remarkable quartet he’s put together here includes the saxophonists Michael Attias and Tony Malaby, a frequent pairing that also play in bassist John Hébert’s group and in Attias’s quintet and who together might define some of the best qualities of current Brooklyn free jazz. Completing the quartet is drummer Michael T.A. Thompson, who brings a loose and propulsive animation to every moment of these proceedings, matching the force of Filiano’s lines and ostinati with a sense of liberation.  Like the Clown Car of the title, the band keeps bringing forth more than expected, Filiano’s compositions ranging from kinetic free-bop to thick dirge, and sometimes combining the two, as in the dense “Beguiled.” The two horns make the most of their doubles, with Attias opting for the roar of his baritone as often as he plays alto, and Malaby likewise playing a lot of soprano as well as tenor. The two develop tremendous gravity on “Powder and Paint” and Filiano encourages an orchestral chemistry among the saxophonists with long improvised ensembles evolving naturally from his compositions.  The morose “Baiting Patience,” for example, thoroughly blurs the line between composition and improvisation.  There’s a larger-than-life quality to much of this music, a collective virtuosity that often assumes the traditional complexity of the clown, the exaggerated emotional make-up both mirror and contrary to a host of subtler emotions. While it’s the collective language that often shines, there are some wonderful individual moments, like Filiano’s arco solo on “Dog Days,” a sustained flight into viola register that extends the wail of the reeds. This is compelling work that consistently matches a detailed musicality with powerful emotions.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD33/PoD33MoreMoments3.html

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