July 20, 2007
Circle The Path
Drip Audio DA21562 (www.dripaudio.com)
Not a north-of-the-49th-parallel variant of the FAB trio despite identical instrumentation and the participation of that bands bassist, American Joe Fonda, ZMF forges its own identity. Thats because its other members influences are vastly different from those of FABs jazz-saturated fiddler and drummer.
Vancouver violinist Jesse Zubot brings supple strategies and techniques derived from acoustic folk and ethic music plus his interactions with such free musicians as clarinetist François Houle to Circle The Path, while Toronto drummer Jean Martins tranquil accenting owes much to the restraint derived from his stint in the vocal-instrumental combo Chelsea Bridge and duo with vocalist Christine Duncan. Reassuringly, Fondas bedrock jazz improvising with FABs Billy Bang and Barry Altschul plus his tenure with Anthony Braxtons ever-changing ensembles foreshadowed the roots and experimental sides of his playing exhibited here.
Upfront, the two string-slingers combine to expose various arco possibilities, while Martins beat is sensed more than felt. On Next Step for instance, Zubots double- and triple-stopping takes on gypsy violin arch and echo, as Fonda somehow transforms the highest pitches of his strings into mandolin-like plucks. Meanwhile the interaction on nine-minute #135 is reminiscent of the Revolutionary Ensembles 1970s cohesion, with the bassists thick, sluicing pops, the drummers clattering rolls and the violinist channeling Leroy Jenkins. His sharp tremolo lines and chromatic pizzicato output includes distinctive stop-and-start string scratching.
Finally, Slow Blues confirms ZMFs advanced take on the jazz tradition, with Zubots stuttering arpeggios and staccato stops extending Fondas thumping time-keeping and Martins backbeat slaps.
— Ken Waxman
CODA Issue 334