Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jason Robinson: Fingerprint & David Borgo (+): Initial Conditions

From the San Diego Trumerflora gangmember Circumvention come two new recordings. Jason Robinson's Fingerprint (Circumvention no 50) is a smooth free flowing affair. He plays tenor sax and 4 of the tracks here are a quartet with Kamou Kenyatta piano, Rob Thorsen bass and Nathan Hubbard drums. In his liner notes Robinson describes the music almost perfectly - 'sinewy lines, twisting and turning' like fingerprints. This quartet is relaxed and enjoyable: the music flows easily from them, everyone getting solos, including some sublime piano (the opening to Serendipity, for example, which is lightly reprised at the end). Throughout Hubbard's drums provide finely measure support, and the four instruments are well mixed so that each is identifiable.

The group is slightly expanded for Forest cover - with anothre sax and a trombone - which adds an extra dimension, particularly in relation to the brass sharing lines and harmonies. The centrepiece of the album, in terms of difference however, is Silence becomes a roar which is for a ten-piece orchestra with conductor. This is a strong piece, developing from a pastoral opening section and moving through variations until not quite a roar that ends it.
Cirumvention 53 sees David Borgo (sax, flutes - his name is in larger font, and has had a few releases, mainly on Circumvention and reviewed in &etc) in a trio with Biggs (bass) and Moore (drums): Initial Conditions.

As with most Circumvention releases, this is a very enjoyable one that rides the trio format to create a smooth sound. On a couple of tracks (We do? , Carla's pause or Speaking of a different tradition) the sax gets a bit edgy or scratchy, but not in an excessively confronting way but mainly to add depth and colour. While the trio is democratic, they all get solos, the sax is the driving instrument, and Borgo creates very nice lines through the tracks. Biggs' bass is strong throughout, but a minor issue with the instrument is that the solos are quite quiet (which is unavoidable) but they change the dynamic - but do make you listen! The rhythms set by Moore are excellent and come to the fore in Hiphopcrisy which has a complex percussive pattern held throughout as well as the drumming. A couple of tracks break the mould: Illusions opens with 2 minutes of wistful flute with restrained rhythms section and Meditation #1: girl born on saturday is a beautiful flute solo over bowed bass and shimmering percussion (I could have handled more of this). And Are you? was recorded live, showing that the band can hold it together.

Without confronting or excesses both of these albums offer complex and engaging music that is ultimately satisfying and exciting.

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