More than two years ago trumpet-player Brian Groder released "Torque", a stellar CD with Sam Rivers on sax. Ever since, I've been scanning the usual information sources, eager to find new material by him, wondering what happened because I couldn't find any, but here it is: finally. The band is co-led by pianist Burton Greene, with Rob Brown on sax, Adam Lane on bass, and Ray Sage on drums. Quite a band! And so is the music. Which is as free as it gets, and quite disciplined at the same time. Brian Groder explains "We would discuss the possible form, order of instruments entering and exciting, moods, dynamics and tempos ... but there weren't any melodies/lines, chord or special structure we we reading down". And even if that is the case, very often that is not how it sounds. Each piece has a very clear sense of direction, allowing indeed for much freedom in the interplay. "Separate Being" for instance has a clear rhythm and the forward drive with the interweaving solo instruments, including Lane's bass, brings us back to the best free jazz of the seventies and eighties, while "Amulet", a hornless piece, with lots of extended techniques has a more avant-garde approach, but somehow, out of the interactions, a common voice arises, creating pleasant surprises. "Cryptic Means" in turn, is a duet between trumpet and piano, more introspective and meditative, evolving from the beautiful towards a more nervous intensity. "Nigh" starts with a funky beat on the drums, over which sax and trumpet start a great duel of call and response. I will not review every track, but you get the gist of it : lots of variation, lots of musical ideas, lots of fun too, and emotional moments, ... what more do you want?
So, in sum, again a great album. Some jazz musicians publish more than is possible to keep track of, other artists remain shamefully underrecorded. Groder clearly fits in the latter category. Not only for his technical skills on the trumpet, but also for his musical ideas.
Listen and download from the artist's website.