New Language Collaborative

Retreat
JaZt Tapes CD-030

By Ken Waxman

High quality free jazz from the great North East, this CD’s three extended selections shows how adroitly Boston’s New Language Collaborative (NLC) trio meshes with the playing of Ossington, N.Y.-native trumpeter/flugelhornist Ted Daniel.

Together for a decade, the NLC consists of veterans content to spread the free music gospel in their hometown. A student of Bill Dixon, electric keyboardist Eric Zinman also works in duos and trios; drummer Syd Smart, often gigged with Raphe Malik; while cellist Glynis Lomon has played with Dixon and Anthony Braxton. Considering the collective trio’s affinity for brass, it’s no surprise that Dixon connects with the band like a trumpet’s mouthpiece does with its lead pipe. Recently part of a duo with reedist Michael Marcus, Daniel has recorded outstanding sessions with Andrew Cyrille, Sonny Sharrock, and Dewey Redman among others.

Although Smart also plays electronic percussion and Lomon an “aquasonic” – an interactive app based on the analogy of sound and water – electronics never reorient the program. If anything Lomis’ occasional vocals consisting of bel canto squeals or gravelly gargles offer more commentary on, or contrast with, the instrumental passages, then anyone’s blurry processing. Sutured interaction means that the four create a variant of self-possessed energy music. Group music by definition, all instinctively know when to pull back to spotlight brief solos. For instance, the cellist’s specialities are sharpened, abstract string slices or thick double bass-like stops. Meanwhile the pianist’s skillful, but sometime portentous key sprinkles plus the drummer’s kettle-drum-like resonations add a dollop of connective swing to the narratives. As for Daniel, he airily darts alongside and above the other’s cumulative expressions with rubato smears and pinpointed blats, frequently sliding slim notes in between spaces that the others leave open.

Masterfully expressing understated excitement, the final “Glissolalia” is also the CD’s highpoint. Lomon’s pointillist string drones, Smart’s press rolls, Zinman’s limpid key plinking and Daniel’s flutter-tongue obbligato are succinctly and successfully stacked on top of one another without trauma. The result is uniquely solid, while maintaining the stimulating expression from top-flight improvising.

The only quarrel one could have with this CD is its title. It’s really no Retreat but a steady advance in quartet music making.

Tracks: Stories we tell each other/Space and Time; Truth Still Marches On; Glissolalia

Personnel: Ted Daniel: trumpet, flugelhorn; Eric Zinman: electric keyboard; Glynis Lomon: cello, voice and aquasonic; Syd Smart: drums and electronic percussion

—For The New York City Jazz Record June 2014