December 16, 2016
More Dreams Less Sleep
Veto Records/Exchange 013
More Dreams Less Sleep is characterized by Veto as a “very limited edition” and there’s evidentially a good reason. A cross-oceanic affiliation between Swiss reedist Christoph Erb and Chicagoans, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz and bassist Jason Roebke, the five tracks are as unvarnished and edged as hand-made furniture. Unlike the equivalent of viewing polished, off-the-rack projects, the musical progress here involves observing how functional themes are hewn from raw materials as all three players contribute in building an apparatus.
Over the years the Lucerne-based tenor and soprano saxophonist has played with a load of American and European musicians, building up a particular affiliation with the Windy City. Two of the stand-out improvisers there are the bassist, who besides leading his own bands anchors groups like and People, Places and Things: and the vibist, member of his own and many other ensembles, including a duo with Peter Brötzmann.
To properly situate this CD in the Jazz continuum, compare it to the LPs the Modern Jazz Quartet made with Sonny Rollins. Subtract the pianist and drummer and move the technical considerations 50 years forward. Erb’s sharp tone and harsh blowing are more experimental than Rollins were at the time, although the Swiss player never lets technique prevent him from intersecting with the others. Without drums, time-keeping passes to Roebke. But even as he creates a Free Music variant of the MJQ’s Percy Heath – there are also times he and Adasiewicz output textures that could come from percussionists – that doesn’t stop him from breaking up the program with aeco work. Taking a different tack than the MJQ’s upfront Milt Jackson, Adasiewicz operates as a colorist. Like an animation studio artist who adds the background and depth after the initial cell is created, Adasiewicz dusts Erb’s bare-bones expositions with the equivalent of gentle snow, blooming flowers and other vibrant textures. These melody extensions aren’t precious either, but vital to the tracks’ architecture.
Note this most clearly on “Bizarre”, where chunky connections arising from Roebke’s string pumps and Adasiewicz’s tremolo shakes, energize what’s initially a flat-line exposition. Subsequent churning string strokes give the saxophonist license to unleash calliope-like whistles, wheezes and slurps. However percussive pumping from the bassist linked to powerful mallet cascades moves the saxophonist’s now pliable timbres closer to the mainstream. “Weird”, the final track, marks the zenith of this approach with animal-like clawing noises that can’t be attributed to any one player heard. Cunningly though, a bowed bass line introduces a concluding sequence where walking bass and snappy pumps from vibes and reeds create unabashed swing. Appreciate these closing minutes, which are like the happy ending in a Hollywood film. But remember that most of this cerebral CD calls for and rewards more concentrated listening.
Track Listing: 1. Vivid 2. Bizarre 3. Tense 4. Memories 5. Weird
Personnel: Christoph Erb (soprano and tenor saxophones); Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone) and Jason Roebke (bass)