Jun 14 2018
There is an intriguing sense of detachment between the quartet members on the latest from Jason Stein. It’s not that they behave as if unaware of the presence of one another, but more along the lines of a conversation where each participant has their individual perspective of the central theme. What this does is create fascinating lines of melodic tangents, where the points of connectivity are almost happenstance and the near-misses are textures rich with the personalities of all involved. Front and center is how Stein’s bass clarinet interacts with the tenor sax and contrabass clarinet of Keefe Jackson. Sometimes they roll out the melody like a flurry of punches and sometimes it’s the chirping of birds after the rain. But when that interaction settles into the friendly chatter from bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer Tom Rainey are the moments that the album truly comes alive. It’s when the connections are revealed within the seeming detachment, and that contradiction of impressions makes it difficult to know where to focus attention. Keeping the ear guessing like that is no small feat, and speaking from personal experience, it’s a form of engagement that makes an intellectually stimulating affair something that’s supremely fun. A catchy melody and personable rhythmic chatter serve as the delivery system for questions like “What comes next and where’s it coming from and how is it all going to shake out?”
Some Stein originals are bundled up with covers of Monk, Bird and Tristano. Here, Stein is clearly evidencing a comfort level with where he is as a musician. The music is made personal in his own voice, while also honoring the originals in both spirit and sound. How that carries through in terms of song identity and the transitions between the songs benefits the album with a sense of cohesion. It also makes it more personable, as if Stein had opened a window to the outside so everyone could give a listen to a conversation meant only to be heard by the four musicians. The connection that forges is no small thing, and it is in no small part a reason why Lucille! is so damn addictive.
Your album personnel: Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophone, contrabass clarinet), Joshua Abrams (bass) and Tom Rainey (drums).
Released on Delmark Records.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Chicago.
And this is a good time to remind everyone that Stein just recently released After Caroline with his trio Locksmith Isidore. It was one of my recent Best Jazz on Bandcamp selections, which you can check out at The Bandcamp Daily.