Timothée Quost/Ishmael Ali/Bill Harris

Dawá
AmalGamusic No #

Brian Groder Trio

Luminous Arcs

Latham Records No #

Vance Provey/Bob Gorry/Paul Gunsberg

Collective Expression

NHIC No #

Rhythm section and trumpet trios create intonation challenges which demand cerebral and technical acumen to overcome. Still each of these mostly American groups affects a transformation by joining original material with an extended instrumental palate.

Playing both trumpet and flugelhorn New York’s Brian Groder, who has previously recorded with Sam Rivers and Burton Greene, expresses his 11 compositions with two accomplished veteran free players bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Jay Rosen. Meanwhile on Dawá, French trumpeter Timothée Quost, who usually synthesizes post-mixed soundscapes brings his trumpet and electronics to improvise alongside two Chicago players, cellist/guitarist, Ishmael Ali, who moves between electronica and improvisation and Bill Harris who plays drums and electronics in groups with Josh Berman and others. Finally Collective Expression is just that matching the New Haven-based talents of trumpeter Vance Provey, who has played with Gunter Hampel, guitarist Bob Gorry, who moves among Blues and avant-Jazz and drummer/saxophonist Paul Gunsberg, who has played with Joe Morris.

Closest to FreeBop, the curves forged during Luminous Arcs’ 11 tracks include blends of three-sided interaction that include the clatter of drums, expressive, elongated string plucks and muted delicacy or shiny open horn expression from the brass. As well as detours into bent-note extravagance, angled string positioning and powered percussion slaps and shuffles, a flowing connection is maintained throughout, culminating in a logical, straight-ahead finale on “Smoored”. True to the looser, non-collective form, the session includes extended solo sections, on for instance “Winter Wurr” and “Until Eyes Met”. Without fracturing the time, Bisio explores the limits of his four strings on the former, with skinny swabs at the top of the scale and buzzing mellow responses later on, paced by half-valve effects and low-key balladic runs from Groder plus distant claps that pick up the from Rosen. “Until Eyes Met” is balanced between capillary sweetness and multi-string bass sweeps with a narrative is intense but smooth enough to reference pointillist coloration.

Collective Expression’s eight tracks on the other hand are squeakier, more distorted and, jagged from a trio that styles itself the New Haven Improvisers Collective. Not only are dissected guitar plinks and yelping trumpet bites prevalent, but when Gunsberg pulls out his saxophone, the number of textures expressed multiplies. This packed exposition is especially effective on the final “Still Time”, when the trumpeter takes drum chair, Gunsberg constructs an theme out of altissimo squeaks and stops and slurred finger vibrations challenging Gorry’s Metal-like guitar strumming. String surges and dissolves also intersect cunningly with trumpet strategies throughout whether it’s brief brass bites or fluid Harmon-muted warmth, as spot-on drumming maintains horizontal motion. This is expressed most descriptively on “Convolution”, where strums and slurred fingering fit most comfortably among the other textures. With broken timbres from both saxophone squeaks and plunger trumpet extensions, power pulses and energetic frails helps the theme build up to a crescendo at the half way mark. After that the piece relaxes into a chromatic but no less dynamic motif with pile-driver guitar twangs, pointed trumpet slurs and drum paradiddles.

Programmed wave forms define Dawá, with the three extended improvisations depending on the manipulations of oscillations, often encompassing microtonal shifts and turns. With Harris’ rasps and ruffs creating a chunky and ever-shifting bottom, the layers above feature brassy yelps, squeaks and flutters plus Ali shifting from stropped cello vibrations or chicken-scratch guitar strums. Since instrumental extensions constantly mix with processed crackles, expositions shake slinky-like as motifs or come in-and-out of aural focus. “Camphor” for instance develops from reductionist motion expressed by stick-on-cymbal rasps and treble brass puffs to attain dynamic power with strident cello-string rubs. Becoming gradually louder at the same time, the exposition splits and squeals with spinning top oscillations as synthesized computer distortions, mercurial tongue flutters and alarm-clock-like pacing from the drummer reach a zenith of resolved connections. The release takes the form of ebullient brass curlicues, knob-twisting guitar riffs and rebounding drum drones. Animation is balanced with languorousness on the concluding “Claret”, as what sounds like paper being crumbled soon evolves into rattles revealed as cello string scratching and percussion hammering. Adding to the cacophony with trumpet smacks against the mike, a climax is reached until the narrative is moderated into a do-see-do of hand-patted drum beats and pizzicato string twangs. Forced guitar licks and hard blowing from the trumpet signals the ending.

Each CD proves that there are no limitations to any instrumental mix as long as the right ideas and techniques are involved.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Luminous: 1. Moon Bow 2. Spanglin’ 3. Far Between 4. Sundog 5. Bonds of Now 6. Winter Wurr 7. Until Eyes Met 8. Longer Than Sky 9. Crystal Lattice 10. Pirr 11. Smoored

Personnel: Luminous: Brian Groder (trumpet and flugelhorn); Michael Bisio (bass) and Jay Rosen (drums)

Track Listing: Collective: 1. Cyclone 2. Extraction 3. Miles to Go 4. Convolution 5. Strap Hanger 6. Savage Detectives 7. Iron Mike 8. Still Time*

Personnel: Collective: Vance Provey (trumpet and drums*); Bob Gorry (guitar) and Paul Gunsberg (drums and alto saxophone)

Track Listing: Dawá: 1. Capsaicin 2. Camphor 3. Claret

Personnel: Dawá: Timotheé Quost (trumpet and electronics); Ishmael Ali (cello, guitar and electronics) and Bill Harris (drums and electronics)