Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
Pieces of Old Sky – Samuel Blaser Quartet (Clean Feed) – The Swiss-born trombonist/composer Samuel Blaser aims to seduce the avid listener on this recording, his 2nd CD, with his quartet. Utilizing the rhythm section of Thomas Morgan (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums) and the additional voice of guitarist Todd Neufeld, Blaser has created an atmospheric collection of tunes that range from the classically inspired title tracks to the harder-edge of “Red Hook” the soft balladic “Choral I” and “Choral II.” One has to pay close attention to Blaser’s music. It’s not about solo fire and great technique but melodic interplay and dynamic variations. His trombone style reminds this listener of the late Albert Mangelsdorff (an admitted influence), not for his technical prowess but for the rich tones and subtle use of multiphonics. “Mandala” has a bluesy feel, with a melody line that references George Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” – the piece moves quite deliberately, allowing each player to paint a delicate picture. “Speed Game” does not much move much quicker but has a harder edge, thanks to Sorey’s active drumming. The percussionist can really drive a non-rhythmical piece (sounds contradictory but on this cut, he leads the way from the drum chair.) Morgan’s work is quite delicate; at times, he’s like a second guitar line alongside Neufeld (“Choral II” being a good example.)
In this time when consumers are used to fast-talking pitchmen and agitated political talk-show hosts, Samuel Blaser has created a program that often whispers and does not scream. Pay attention and you’ll discover that this music goes in very interesting directions.