Jason Stein/Paul Giallorenzo/Frank Rosaly

Hearts and Minds
Astral Spirits AS026

Having figured out how to make an improvised music trio function as if it was a Heavy Metal trio on this disc are three Chicago-based players who have already established themselves as Jazz standard bearers. Like movie thriller makers who demonstrate that there’s a subversive edge in their program, no matter how much in-your-face brutality is exposed, Jason Stein, Paul Giallorenzo and Frank Rosaly are too attuned to sophisticated sounds to affect the jejune properties of simpler strategies.

Flitting between Europe and the US, drummer Rosaly is known for his work with reedist Boris Hauf and cornetist Josh Berman among many others. Bass clarinetist Stein has established his voice in bands with reedist Ken Vandermark and drummer Mike Reed among others. Least known of the three, keyboardist Giallorenzo’s personal music is unique and quirky.

Possessing individual skills doesn’t mean that the three can’t function as if they were interlocking Lego bricks in an edifice. Each is versatile enough to link original ideas to the LP’s nine tracks. Allied, not severed, textures are celebrated. Comfortable in his instrument’s coloratura as well as the expected chalumeau range, Stein’s tongue slaps, irregular slurs as well as straight-ahead playing cinch alongside Rosaly’s subtle percussion shadings and Giallorenzo’s ability to strike the keys with Punk intensity while never losing track of a Blues undercurrent. The keyboardist also leads in stretching out themes that like a decorated shirtwaist gain allure with additional ornamentation. “Irresolute’ is an instance of this where an uncomplicated Jimmy Giuffre-styled riff is matched by chromatic piano lines, only to bellicosely splash outwards pushed by keyboard jiggles and stacked altissimo reed vibrations.

Like a team of acrobatics trying new routines, the band experiments with concepts as different as pseudo-waltz time as one theme; to pitch modulations as asides from the clarinetist one other tunes, many of which are underlined by buzzing echoing tones from the keyboards. In terns of descriptive action the subsequent “Three for One” and “An Unfortunate Lack of Role Models” best characterize the band’s strategy. Mid-range and mellow at the top, the first quickly accelerates to a car-racing-like roar based on percussion thundering and keyboard chord elaboration. Then abandoning those connections to Black Sabbath for ones that reference Sun Ra, the three create a novel exposition out of outer-space-like synthesizer slurs and jagged reed splinters. Finally they to break the melody down into atoms displayed like diamonds in a jewelry shop, and signal completion with hard drum roll,

Stein, Giallorenzo and Rosaly are forging their own path here. It will worthwhile to follow it and determine where it leads.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Stocky 2. Rocked and Eroded 3. The Western Situation 4. Three for One 5. An Unfortunate Lack of Role Models 6. Streaming 7. Nick Masonry 8. Irresolute 9. Old Balance

Personnel: Jason Stein (bass clarinet); Paul Giallorenzo (synthesizer and electric-pianet) and Frank Rosaly (drums and electronics)