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Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Sam Weinberg Trio w/ Chris Lightcap & Tom Rainey – Implicatures (Astral Spirits, 2023)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Sam Weinberg has been on my list of favorite saxophonists for quite a while now, but some time has passed since I was so thrilled about a recording he is involved. This time on Implicatures, for the always great Astral Spirits label, he seems to be the leader of a trio with established players like Tom Rainy on the drums and Chris Lightcap on double bass.

Checking out the info on the album’s bandcamp page, it felt a bit contradictive, since Weinberg is mentioned as the main (but not the only one, some tracks are equally composed by the trio) composer. The big contradiction is that the music on this vinyl album seems to flow freely like a spontaneous (or, at least, allowing some predetermined ideas) improvisation. Some listenings after the first one, I found myself noticing a well deserved balance between spontaneous playing and the elephant in the room, for us aficionados of improvisation, which is compositions.

I dare to say that this music is part composed and part improvised. Choose any side, of the two, you like, but you cannot deny that Implicatures is an aggressive, full of energy album, probably the best sax-bass-drums trio of jazz based musics for the whole year. There is a certain feeling of rapport between the players and, again this word, a balance between individual playing with pathos and collective musicianship.

Weinberg’s tenor sax is an aggressive but also humble affair. He uses phrases and timbre as a means to connect with the rhythm section of Lightcap and Rainey that isn’t exactly that –not in the traditional way. The double bass and the drums resemble an entity of their own and play in unison. Sometimes they are many galaxies away from the typical “keep the rhythm” of jazz tradition. But most of all, it is this feeling, one that is not easily described but much preferably listened to, of bringing fresh air, managing to distinguish themselves from the numerous recordings, each year, that call themselves free jazz.

There is so much freedom in their music that it is worthy the aforementioned label. One of the best albums for 2023.

Listen and buy here: