Jason Robinson — Tiresian Symmetry
(Cuneiform Rune 346, 2012, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-07-12Composer and saxophonist Robinson (also a member of Cosmologic) leads this nine-piece jazz ensemble through some treacherous and expansive material, driven by a combination of tasty melodic articulation and free-ish improvisation that is at times soothing and sensitive, and at other times borders on the bristly edge of total chaos. These are a bunch of great players though, and when they get behind a great idea they can push it home with finesse. The band features Robinson on tenor and soprano saxes, and alto flute, plus additional players covering guitar, bass, drums (two drummers, in fact), tuba, bass trombone, alto, bass and contrabass clarinet, c flute, glockenspiel, and even more saxes (alto and tenor)… did I forget anything? There are a lot of cooks in this kitchen, and their collective stew ranges from elements pastoral and serene to intense, complex, abstract, and outright disquieting. One never knows where these eight pieces are going next, and that surprise element is what keeps it interesting, and sometimes impenetrable. I’ve been playing this disc off and on for over six months trying to get my ears wrapped around it and figure out how to put what they do into words, and every time I push the play button, it’s like I’ve never heard it before. Listeners who like that kind of challenge will find plenty of it within these grooves; on the other hand those who shy away from the rich cornucopia of free improv and the honk-n’-squonk of a three sax plus brass front line might be better off moving along to the next review.
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