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Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double — March
(Bandcamp Firehouse 12 FH12-04-01-035, 2022, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-06-06

March Cover art

As we all know from mathematics, multiplication is a commutative operation, so that three times two is the same as two times three. Drummer Tomas Fujiwara’s group Triple Double illustrates the principle, as it can be regarded as two trios (drums, guitar, trumpet/cornet) or three duos (two drums, two guitars, two trumpets, or various other permutations). The other drummer is Gerald Cleaver, the guitarists are Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, and the brass players are Ralph Alessi (trumpet) and Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet). The same lineup was responsible for 2017’s Triple Double, so they have experience working within the unusual configuration. It seems like Seabrook is often taking on a bass-like role, with Halvorson providing chords and her distinctive melodic sense, not to mention her whammy pedal, but there are no hard and fast rules here. We’ve covered both Halvorson and Fujiwara in numerous previous reviews, from Thumbscrew to Ideal Bread to Tomeka Reid and more; Seabrook, whom I recently covered in Three-Layer Cake, also has worked with John Zorn, Ghost Train Orchestra, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, and more. Cleaver has a recorded history going back to the 80s, including Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, Miroslav Vitouš, and dozens more. As for the brass, Bynum has a long discography featuring Anthony Braxton, Joe Fonda, and Elliott Sharp; Alessi has worked with Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, and Drew Gress, among many more. Suffice it to say that they are all experienced players who have encountered each other in previous ensembles and have what it takes to make this unusual lineup work. Whether ripping through a composed head or stretching out spontaneously, March is a series of intriguing moments, capturing creative players at the top of their games. Among many standouts is “Docile Fury Ballad,” which starts out with an intense rhythmic theme full of dissonance, then wanders into a free-floating section with wah-wah not from a guitar but from cornet (I think) with plunger. The piece builds with relentless crashing chords, then sidetracks into a section with throbbing drums and a crazy guitar solo (Seabrook, I believe), only to end with an echo of the beginning. The album ends with “For Alan, Part II,” a drum duet over 17 minutes in length, and it's actually quite listenable. There are no weak moments, and each track presents different ways of putting things together. It’s certainly one of the year’s best jazz releases so far.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Mary Halvorson, Tomas Fujiwara, Brandon Seabrook

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