Steve Treseler Group – “Center Song”


Steve Treseler - "Center Song"An absorbing session from multi-reedist Steve Treseler, who applies an impressionist’s touch to this modern straight-ahead set and, as a result, elevates the recording up to something quite special.  Center Song keys in on three basic forms of presentation, then weaves them all together to where cohesion is king and differentiation is as fluid a vision as passing scenery from a train window.

Your album personnel:  Steve Treseler (tenor & alto saxes, clarinet, bass clarinet), Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Jon Hamar (double bass), Dawn Clement (piano), Chris Spencer (guitar), Dean Schmidt (electric bass), Steve Korn (drums), Meg Risso (cello), and guest: Don Kramlich (piano).

The group of threes can be broken down into general categories.  There are those straight-ahead tracks that swing right along, and then there are others that bring harmonic and rhythmic elements stretching out beyond Jazz borders, flirting with territory defined by chamber and indie-rock.  The third of three are the interludes dispersed throughout the expanse of the album, with most accentuating the chamber music face of this recording… but the way in which they’re presented as little sonic vignettes allows them to exist on their own two feet, and provides them with a life’s purpose that eclipses their role as mere transitions between proper songs.

Of the first category, “Kary’s Trance” is a joyful bop tune spurred on by the shuffle and step of rhythm section bassist Hamar and drummer Korn, and features some nice soloing over the top from Treseler, Jensen, and Kramlich on tenor sax, trumpet, and piano.  “Cold Hammered” has a similar demeanor, but digs in deeper with a bit of a groove.

Of the second category, “11,000 Miles,” with its dramatic builds and surges and its strong melody that goes off wandering in all kinds of directions, is reminiscent of other bands from the Pacific Northwest scene such as the Tunnel Six ensemble, or a bit more distantly, the Brian Blade Fellowship… elements of indie-rock and contemporary folk that, applied in the right amounts and the right spots, create a cinematic wash of evocative imagery.

Title-track “Center Song” is another piece cut from that mold.  Jensen’s trumpet has a soaring propulsion while still keeping close to the ensemble… an effect that’s even more arresting when she suddenly falls in lock step with the steady pulse of the rhythm section.  The solos are all well and good, but it’s the way in which Treseler and Jensen intertwine their lines of communication that makes for the most thrilling part of the dialog.  “Painted Trail” is one of those epic tunes that never seems to end, a succession of solos gliding effortlessly across a sweeping harmonic expanse.  “At Home” is its opposite, bundling its expressions in tight and succinct, while emitting the cheerful tranquility of looking back on good times.

Of those intervals, “Inner Sounds Part 2” crafts pretty lines of melody atop a pulsing beat, whereas “Ultra Tempo (for George Garzone)” is a sudden downpour that whips about violently before disappearing just as quickly.  “Abyss” is the strange quiet that follows that storm.  The brief harmonic sigh of “Chorale” is an alluring intro to the straight-ahead “Cold Hammered,” an effect matched in how the unattached missive of “Interlude” leads into the cover of pop song “Days Were Golden.”

And it’s with that cover of the hit song by fellow Seattle residents Sunny Day Real Estate that Treseler closes out the album.  With its languid sway and brief surges of intensity, there’s a satisfying compactness to this song, ending an album that is typified by stunning changes in shape and form.

A seriously captivating album.

Released, officially, on CMA Records, but this was a Kickstarter thing, so it’s more likely this ablum is Self-Produced.  Creative Music Adventures (CMA) appears to be a music school for children that Treseler is involved with.  Here’s a LINK to learn more about the organization.  Getting kids involved with music is an exceedingly worthwhile pursuit.

Jazz from the Seattle, WA scene.

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