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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ned Rothenberg - Sync (Intuition, 2000) ****½

Ned Rothenberg is difficult to pigeonhole. He made some real avant-garde music, but also very accessible world jazz with his band Sync. While waiting for the band's latest album to be available in the European shops (just out on Tzadik in January of this year), I thought it would be wise to prepare readers to his former work. Sync consists of Rothenberg on sax and clarinet, Jerome Harris on guitar and bass, and Samir Chatterjee on tabla and percussion. Whatever the genre he takes on, Rothenberg is a phenomenal player, with a very broad range and an almost perfect mastery of the circular breathing technique, which allows him to extend melodies endlessly. The first piece "Gamalong" is an Indian melody, the second "Dag Can Dig" is a real jazz piece, with walking bass and bass clarinet, reminiscent of Audrey's dance in Twin Peaks, and on the third "Lost In A Blue Forest" he plays the Japanese shakuhachi flute. This CD touches upon many musical genres and the atmosphere often changes. The fourth piece starts in a Latin vein, and turns into Monk's Misterioso after some five minutes. The trio manages to weave all these musical influences into a coherent whole. In contrast to his more avant work in "The Fell Clutch" or "The Lumina Recordings" the Sync Trio is less focused on musical adventure, but more on the joy of making music and you can hear the musicians enjoy the interplay, giving assists to each other, and because of that the music is accessible, lightfooted, dancing, jubilating, ... a musical shot of adrenaline.