When: Thu., Dec. 17, 8:30 p.m. 2015
Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser is one of the more deliberate and focused musicians in jazz: he not only sculpts meticulous improvisations that sound composed, but also assembles smart projects in which the concept never overwhelms the emotional substance. His recent quartet album Spring Rain (Whirlwind) is an imaginative salute to the great reedist and improviser Jimmy Giuffre, more specifically the trio music he made in the early 60s on clarinet with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow. That small body of music remains a touchstone for players committed to chamber-like intimacy, free time, and an ensemble aesthetic devoid of strict chord changes. Blaser combines a series of elegant originals with tunes by Giuffre—as well as a couple the trio recorded by Carla Bley, like the beautiful “Jesus Maria”—and for the most part his excellent band (drummer Gerald Cleaver, pianist Russ Lossing, and bassist Drew Gress) bring greater heat and propulsion than their forebears. The parts played by Blaser and Lossing coalesce within fleet polymetric schemes. The former serves brooding melodies with plush-toned voicings that are frequently riddled with multiphonics, while Lossing piles on exhilarating solos that occasionally become discordant when he switches to Fender Rhodes or Wurlitzer. For this show Lossing joins Blaser along with drummer Gerry Hemingway and bassist Toto Gucci.