Bassist Marlene Rosenberg plays Room 43 on Sunday | Bleader

Bassist Marlene Rosenberg plays Room 43 on Sunday


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Earlier this week veteran Chicago bassist and bandleader Marlene Rosenberg released her first new album in a decade, Bassprint (Origin)—only the third in her career. I've never followed her work too closely, but over the years she's played and recorded with some impressive company: drummer Ed Thigpen, pianists Kenny Barron and Cedar Walton, saxophonist Javon Jackson. Bassprint features a strong new band of tasteful young(er) guns who help articulate her lyrical vision as a composer: reedist Geof Bradfield, guitarist Scott Hesse, and drummer Makaya McCraven.

The album includes a pair of tunes by Barron, but otherwise Rosenberg wrote all the music. Certain cuts are clear homages, especially "Wayne-Ish" and "Eyes for Shorter"—on both tracks Bradfield's melodic, harmonically elaborate soprano playing recalls the great Wayne Shorter. Throughout the recording Rosenberg asserts herself without upstaging her bandmates; she takes her fair share of tuneful solos, but more impressive is the way her forceful, propulsive lines resonate within the spectrum of the full group. Though I'm sure the record was mixed to enhance her presence, it never seems overbearing. The playing is thoroughly mainstream and her sidemen don't push the envelope as they sometimes do elsewhere (Hesse works regularly with trumpeter Corey Wilkes, McCraven plays in the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, and Bradfield experiments subtly in his own stellar projects), but they all strengthen Rosenberg's music. I'd prefer to hear more of Bradfield on tenor, not soprano, but that's a quibble. Rosenberg and her band play Sunday evening at Room 43 as part of the Hyde Park Jazz Society's weekly series. Below you can check out a track from the new album that tips its hat to Thelonious Monk.

Marlene Rosenberg Quartet, "Tale of Two Monk Keys"

Today's playlist:

Los Hermanos Lovo, ¡Soy Salvadoreño! (Smithsonian Folkways)
David Binney, Graylen Epicenter (Mythology)
Thelonious Monk, Monk's Music (Riverside/OJC)
Angelo Petronella, Rimandi e Scoperte (Die Schachtel)
Muhal Richard Abrams, SoundDance (Pi)