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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hollenbeck, Darche, Boisseau, Blaser - JASS (Yolk Records, 2014) *****

By Hugo Truyens

JASS. Samuel Blaser: trombone; Alban Darche: tenor saxophone; Sébastien Boisseau: double bass; John Hollenbeck: drums.

Since there is no definite goal in life, no prescribed target to get to, there can be no regret only joy when pathways meet and another piece of music enters your sonic experience to take hold. This one is by JASS, four initials luckily coinciding with  the Original Dixieland Jass Band, the group credited with the very first jazz recording, way back in 1917.  Way here in 2014 there’s so much to take from, extending the bow of tradition into the now, playing freely.

Let’s break it up:

Recurring dreams: A nice unison start, splitting in counterparts and evolving into an exploratory trombone solo, how do I work this,sturdily shod by bass and drum, alto underpinning and taking over with repetitive theme, speeding up and bringing the whole to a boil.

Saj’s: A broken melancholy theme interrupted by some quiet weird eruptions, almost Cageian prepared piano, resulting in very subdued conversation well, not about the weather.

Jazz Envy: Theme explored and re-explored, a dash of elephants in the background and rustling rhythm this time, segueing into broken swing.

Water: quiet conversation, telling stories, then the marching drums pop up at the horizon and once again we dive into the mean slow music I so like, always together always alone, getting urgent, pushing each other, never punishing, and coming back to the lovely unison again. Water indeed, after a long trip in the desert. Or something like that.

Limp mint: Melodica kicking off this time. Indian drone, and long sustained breaths, savouring tones under and over. Rhythm underneath off kilter, but right on the money. Yeah, that hits the spot baby.

And off again, 4 guys on the road, seen from above their paths intertwining separating yet painting a stunning picture.

Driving license: Popping and spurting, feeling out the sounds again, some rainsticks, and so slowly so elegantly building up the frame, whereinto the melody is woven, drumkicks all over, densing up (if that’s a verb and it should be) and playing it far out.

No D.: Some industrial drumming here and two urgent  pleas, until the drive catches on and propels the whole ever on ever on. Feet tapping head bobbing and again a fierce blowout. Great stuff.

Miss Universe 2031: is a curvy blonde, moving on stage with sinuous abandon, and that’s all she has to say. “We approach the divine by enlarging our souls and lighting up our brains.” (Tom Robbins)
It began to get dark: but we’re all alight now.  And it ends with a better world, no doubt. No more words. Press play.

I could choose some adjectives, smart, funny, enthralling, aware, defiant, respectful and you can choose your own, but this album needs to be heard. Make it so.