Friday, October 19, 2012

Jason Robinson - Tiresian Symmetry (Cuneiform Records, 2012) ****

By Paul Acquaro

The mythology of the blind soothsayer Tiresias, expressed in numerical relationships, undergirds the compositions in Jason Robinson's Tiresian Symmetry. However, I must admit I've paid less attention to this aspect than the music, which is delightfully rife with clever melodic passages, rich harmonies, vibrant rhythms and fantastic playing.

'Stratum 3' kicks off the album with propulsive exchanges between the horns, drums and bass creating a jaunty foundation for the sax to build on, while the guitar adds a slight shimmer with well placed comping. Another fine moment is when the bass clarinet rises out of the mix on 'Tiresian Symmetry', soon joined by the sax and guitar spinning out angular patterns, it becomes an uptempo whirl of voices that soon breaks into a bass solo and free improv section. The rhythms and intertwining melodic lines emerge and grow like musical kudzoo, quickly taking over the sonic landscape.

Joining Robinson's tenor sax, alto flute, and soprano sax is JD Parran playing alto clarinet, contra bass clarinet, tenor sax, Marty Ehrlich on alto sax, bass clarinet, flute, Marcus Rojas on tuba, and Bill Lowe providing tuba, bass trombone. The rhythm section is fleshed out with Liberty Ellman on guitar, Drew Gress playing bass, and George Schuller and Ches Smith on drums.

From tiny interactions to big melodic statements and harmonic developments, the playing swings from being fierce and raucous, to mere moments later, hushed and spacious (I'm thinking about the opening of 'Radiate' which features the guitar prominently and the beautiful free intro to 'Saros' that suddenly erupts rhythmically).

The aforementioned mythology guiding this recording, which I summarily ignored, can be explored better on this site, and the video below also contains a detailed explanation. Regardless, the music is dense but light, heavy but open, and invitingly accessible. A solid listen through and through.




3 comments:

joesh said...

Amazing!

I don't know how the music is as I haven't had time to listen to this one. However, looking at the line up he must have had some serious sponsors to pay such heavy guns!

Tim Niland said...

Nice review, I really enjoyed this album.

Cosmo Vitelli said...

I loved the cd. Yes, mr.Robinson he must have had good producers to record his music with such performers. I'm glad he had, though! It was years since I heard Schuller playing in such a tight and coese context (he's clearly inspired by it).