Monday, October 1, 2007

Joe Rosenberg Quartet - Quicksand (Black Saint, 2007) ****

This live recording starts with a very nice clean-sounding solo improvization by Joe Rosenberg on sax, then Masako Hamamura joins on piano, adding a few soft chords, then Mark Helias' bass takes over, gently plucking the strings, moving the track a step further as an intro for a fragile unisono line between sax and piano, elegantly accentuated by Tom Rainey on drums. The rhythm section proves to have the absolutely necessary sensitivity to accompany Rosenberg in his adventurous take on music, which is calm, accurate, slowly building on the structures he creates. This does not mean that the music is not intense, it certainly is, but it's restrained at the same time. Violent emotional outbursts or expressions of extreme feelings are alien to this music: it flows like a river, finding its own melodic course through the creative interplay of the moment. It is the free variant of post-bop. Helias and Rainey of course need no introduction, and whatever these two musicians do lately apparently turns into a success. Hamamura is a discovery for me : her piano-playing is excellent. The real star is Rosenberg himself, for the quality and the sensitivity of his playing, and for his compositions. Exciting music, and fun too. And the Knitting Factory audience seemed to agree!

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