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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

patrick brennan sOnic Openings - Tilting Curvaceous (Clean Feed, 2023)

I first heard saxophonist patrick brennan play at a solo show at Downtown Music Gallery, long long ago in a galaxy far far away. I recall being quite impressed with his fiery and rhythmic playing and on his tremendous Tilting Curvaceous, a quintet recording featuring a stellar cast of musicians, brennan merges his effusive sound with a set of thematic compositions that takes classic free jazz concepts and stretch them out with fantastic imagination.

The description on Bandcamp says, "the music’s orienting matrix is constructed from a series of melodically coded polyrhythmic cells whose connective tissue may suggest nearly unlimited transformations." This somewhat bewildering sentence is a perfect description to the feel of the music. Wrapped in the group's simultaneous melodies and unusual musical paths, you can hear the elasticity and tenacity of brennan's composition. Look too at the band composition, complimenting brennan' alto sax is trumpeter Brian Groder whose works is always melodic and probing. Add Rod Williams, whose approach to the piano provides a solid foundation and jolts of energy at opportune moments. Drummer Michael TA Thompson and bassist Hilliard Greene add absolutely essential rhythmic drive and sensitivity. The group takes brennan's musical cells and generates a cohesive, elastic, and generous whole.

Structurally, Tilting Curvaceous is a collection of 14 short tracks, all given a 'Part n' title. 'Part 1' begins with the piano delivering an intriguing syncopated riff, just on the atonal side with with hints of a melodic hook. Quickly, the others join in with colliding harmonic ideas. Soon, 'Part 2' begins, which is a bit of slow burning ballad containing some visceral remnants of initial theme, if not exact notes. The mood of this track continues through brennan's solo, which burns reservedly over minimal accompaniment. 'Part 3' then starts with an uptempo rhythmic intro from Thompson, joined by Williams and Greene driving like a classic 1960s free jazz. Skipping ahead,  'Part 7' leads with  disjointed phrasing, free playing, but remains connected through a compositional - or maybe - organizational thread. Later, 'Part 10,' which after some arpeggiated flair from the piano, transitions to an intervallically akimbo melodic statement from brennan that is quickly followed by Groder's own. Other places, like in 'Part 11,' there is jagged but flowing piano work, in which strands of classical leaning passages are augmented and fractalized in the same moment. Greene is featured on the next track in a long bass introduction, which then builds to a modern post/bop cadenza.

That's only the half of it, there is a lot packed into the recording. Tilting Curvaceous, from patrick brennan sOnic Openings is stylistically varied, expansive, expressive, and always engaging. The music pulls from classic free and avant-garde jazz history while digging liberally into further afield rhythmic motives and ideas, resulting in an absolutely delightful and engrossing album. 


Anonymous said...

Great review, I totally agree. Been listening to the record for some weeks now, and I´m absolutely thrilled. A superb record, mind-blowing really, perhaps even a masterpiece. I strongly recommend this one, and I´m sure it will be on many Best of 2023 lists.