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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

CD Review: Samuel Blaser Quartet - Spring Rain

Samuel Blaser (trombone), Russ Lossing (piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer & Minimoog), Drew Gress (double bass) & Gerald Cleaver (drums).
(Review by Russell)
Samuel Blaser’s debut release for Whirlwind Recordings features his established quartet of Russ Lossing, Drew Gress and Gerald Cleaver. An homage to Jimmy Giuffre, Spring Rain comprises twelve tracks (six Blaser tunes, one by Blaser and Lossing, three lesser-known Giuffre numbers and two Carla Bley compositions) embracing jazz, blues, freely improvised sections and Blaser’s scholarly contemporary classical roots.
Recorded in New Jersey and Berlin, Spring Rain is a study for trombone; considered and melodic playing throughout, collective improvisation retaining form and shape. Rarely a frantic workout, the album exudes a quiet dignity often associated with Jimmy Giuffre. A downbeat opening on Giuffre’s Cry Want indicates the direction Blaser wishes to pursue. Trombone multiphonics engage with Lossing’s piano (Fender Rhodes on several tracks), an absence of bass and drums. Homage (to Giufrre?), all sixty xix seconds, is Blaser solo, slow brass band clarity. The title track – Spring Rain – begins darkly; keyboard clusters, abstract, dampened keys, Blaser’s instrument muted, brassy, intense, improvised.
An album of quiet dignity, Spring Rain rarely stretches out. Missing Mark Suetterlyn is a rip-roaring exception. Lossing picks out the melody, master drummer Gerald Cleaver hits on a swinging, bluesy, post-bop groove and takes bassist Drew Gress with him. There is more up tempo playing on the penultimate track – Counterparts – with hints of funk, the leader’s emergent plaintive trombone and collective improvisation. Spring Rain is likely to appeal to trombonists and those with an interest in developments in contemporary, new music. Spring Rain is available on Michael Janisch’s prolific Whirlwind Recordings – WR4670. Samuel Blaser will be in the UK in the autumn of this year to tour the music of Spring Rain, including an appearance at the EFG London Jazz Festival.          
Russell.    

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