Nov 3 2014
Anna Webber‘s last release, Percussive Mechanics, was one of the best things to come out in 2013. It was an intoxicating recording, where precise melodic fragments danced on a bed of rhythmic crosscurrents in a perpetual state of activity and flux. It was an album of motion, and that Webber could forge something out of hard rhythms that was so delightfully melodic was a hell of an achievement. She has a new album out in 2014. It’s called Simple. It, too, is forged from motion. Simple, though, a trio session of Webber’s flute & sax, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer John Hollenbeck, is an entirely different beast.
Simple moves with a heavier step and sharper, blunter motions. It’s not nearly as beguiling as Percussive Mechanics, but lacks none of its personality. But what once was a ballet is now a mosh pit. Motion is still the driving force.
Opening track “Carnophobia” goes from jitterbug to jittery. Mitchell sends his piano skittering about while sax bounces in unpredictable directions to the nervous chatter of drums. The choppy motion of “Emoticon” binds the trio together, modulating in synch with the force and angle of their cuts. The trio switches things up a bit on “1994,” slipping in a blues drawl and a staggered gait on a track that changes personality a few times before it’s over. “Simplify Simplify” harkens back to Webber’s previous release, applying a lighter touch and a free-spirited orchestration. Hollenbeck is seriously conversant on drums, shifting gears to match up with his trio mates’ streams of thoughts.
“Washington” is the sole album track to choose floating over stomping. Webber’s flute darts about, but even the sudden bursts of acceleration end with long, pleasant glides. Things fall apart right from the start on “I Don’t Want To Be Happy,” and continue to further disassemble from there. The album closes with “Zigzag,” which behaves as would a sleepwalker suffering from increasingly volatile and intense dreams before finally returning to bed and drifting off into an uneasy, but restful sleep.
A neat album with a sharp perspective.
Your album personnel: Anna Webber (flute, alto flute, tenor sax), Matt Mitchell (piano, prepared piano), and John Hollenbeck (drums, percussion).
Released on Skirl Records.
Jazz from NYC.
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