Kyle Brenders Quartet

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18th Note Records 18-2012-2

Proficient in both improvised and notated music, clarinetist/saxophonist Kyle Brenders has become a known commodity on the local music scene and this bang-up disc aptly demonstrates his elevated compositional and playing standards. Working through a program of eight somewhat bouncy always quirky Brenders’ originals he’s helped immeasurably by the cohesive, multi-faceted soloing of trombonist Steve Ward, Tomas Bouda’s unobtrusive yet sturdy bass line, and the ever-inventive drumming of Mark Segger.

Working with motifs which reference brassy marching band music while utilizing extended instrumental techniques, the result is sophisticated without ever becoming esoteric. Segger and Ward are keys to this strategy. On a tune such as Porlock for instance, the trombonist constructs a jolting solo out of mid-range plunger impulses and smooth capillary extensions as Brenders’ soprano saxophone exposes quivering multiphonics. Meanwhile the theme is repeated at intervals with tremolo flutters from both, and centred by the bassist. With Whisk it’s blustering puffs and slurs from the ‘bone man that hold the line as the composer on bass clarinet cascades split tones a capella from subterranean to altissimo and is then joined by the drummer’s ruffs and rebounds for a stop-time ending. Terrace on the other hand is Segger’s showcase, as metallic clinks, castanet-like snaps, wood-block smacks move upfront. At the same time his pops and pitter-patters underline the theme, which is correspondingly vibrates by parallel clarinet and trombone lines.

Far along in his synthesis of other influence, which include composer Anthony Braxton’s eclecticism, the sax-and-trombone centred New York Art Quartet and a crafty subversion of Cool Jazz’s thin and subtle harmonies with raucous trombone blats and contrapuntal saxophone glossolalia, Brenders is a noteworthy Toronto talent, with this CD a definitive showcase of his varied skills. On June 22, this quartet is in concert at The Music Gallery along with New York saxophonist Matana Roberts.

—Ken Waxman

— For Whole Note Vol. 18 #9