STARK/PAULSON/ABBS/CORIO

Indoor Record
Rent Control RCRCD 007

Bare bones improv has always been the best way to expose and explore the talents of maturing jazz musicians. The four young, New York-based improvisers represented on this disc prove the truth of this statement and confirm that they’re on their way to make important music.

Fully involved with the DIY ethic, they haven’t waited to be discovered by a major label either. Drummer Paul Corio, trumpeter Andrew Paulsen and reedist Jeremy Stark have recorded two other discs as a trio, while bassist and tubaist Tom Abbs is guiding force behind the Jump Arts Coalition and the Jump Arts label.

As a matter of fact it’s the sonorous tones of Abbs’ brass beast that often gives this fine CD its distinctive colors. Abbs, who has also been featured in bands with trombonist Steve Swell, reedman/trumpeter Daniel Carter and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, provides an ever-shifting but steady foundation upon which the others can work. At times, as on “Grouchy and Grumpy”, the higher-pitched horns pirouette among protracted, booming tuba blasts. Elsewhere, his solid bass work, whether bowing at hurricane speeds as on “Fulminating” — the CD’s longest track — or holding disparate sections together with a firm pizzicato, make him the perfect playing partners for the others. Interestingly enough, all the instant compositions for the disc were recorded quickly in one session in order that Abbs could make an early gig.

Stark, who along with Corio, has also recorded with Carter, has, perhaps in emulation, expanded his reed repertoire as well. Formerly concentrating on soprano saxophone, which he uses here for solo statements and for harmonically free duets with Paulsen, he debuts his bass clarinet. Another darker hue to add to the musical palate, its earnest tonal qualities give some of the tunes a more serious cast, especially when united with Abbs’ outpourings on either the string or brass bass.

Playing Don Cherry much of the time to Stark’s Steve Lacy, Paulsen’s light, darting cadenzas often supply the pure, nutritious toppings that makes a full meal out of the saxophonist’s reed ingredients. Purring more than growling, here, at least, he comes across as a secondary soloist. When he and the reedman intertwine, he seems to amplifying and decorating the other’s long line and occasional extended reed techniques without asserting himself. Then again it’s this sort of strength in numbers, which defines pieces like “For P & W”, and make them unique.

Corio, who was a visual artist before moving to New York in 1987, and is head honcho of the Rent Control label, expresses new confidence in his playing here as well. Maybe it was because he suddenly had forceful assistance in the rhythm section from Abbs. Whatever it is, he allows himself the space to construct the intro for a couple of the pieces from a combination of snare and toms press rolls and standard time cymbal vibrations, and even indulges in a touch of cymbal scratching behind the hornmen’s more abstract and atonal expressions.

If as the title of track 4 notes, the members of this cooperative band are “Going Through a Phase”, then it’s a meritorious phrase that should be encouraged. Rent Control CDs are available at www.rentcontrolrecords.com. This indoor record is the most impressive the label — and its constituents — has yet produced. It suggests as more flesh is filling in on these bare bones improvisations with maturity. So, more exceptional sounds may soon be on the way as well.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Grouchy and Grumpy 2. Indoor Record 3. Guess Again 4. Going Through a Phase 5. Fulminating 6. For P & W

Personnel: Andrew Paulsen (trumpet); Jeremy Stark (bass clarinet and soprano saxophone); Tom Abbs (bass and tuba); Paul Corio (drums)