Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Adam Lane Trio

Zero Degree Music and Music Degree Zero (CIMP Records), both by the Adam Lane Trio, have become two of my favorite albums so far this year. I've stated a fondness for bass/drum/reed-trios before, and Adam Lane's is just the way I like them; fresh, gutsy and fiery.Adam Lane himself is a young bassist and orchestra leader with an astonishing output, having made records with among others John Tchicai ( Dos and Fo(u)r Being(s)) and Julian Priestler (The Music), as well as leading larger ensemble such as Full Throttle Orchestra and Supercharger Jazz Orchestra. Don't know about you, but I get certain connotations from those names leading me to think that they don't play lounge jazz. Anyway, Mr. Lane sites Ellington, Stockhausen, and Melt Banana as influences, but I can hear some Mingus and early 60's Ornette as well. His playing style reminds me of Dave Holland, though. He is very assertive in his playing, and has a knack for both rapid walks and low-end strumming.
Indeed, parts of the two trio records are reminiscent of Dave Holland's great Conference of the Birds. I say this not only because of Lane's playing, but also because when I first heard the record, I thought about Robert Christgau's review of Conference...:

"This is what I believed Ornette Coleman meant by free jazz (...) free as loose (...)".

And this looseness is combined with both tremendous dynamism and awesome punch. Drummer Vijay Anderson is great at changing tempos, while Lane's bass lines bounce around and Vinny Golia's saxophone goes from a hush to a scream and back again. I love that they are not afraid to let it rip, after all speed thrills, but their quieter moments are equally good. It's bop, post-bop, new thing, but most important of all, they rock.

The records were recorded during a two day session in February 24 and 25, 2005. Zero... was released last year, but sadly escaped under most people's radar, and Music... came out earlier this year. Three selections are on both records: " On Avenue X", "Spin With EARth" and "Dance". But there are some differences in the arrangements and playing of the selections.

"On Avenue X" is a key composition, and different versions bookends the two records. On the version on Zero..., the group shoot out of the blocks. Giola plays soprano, and the track has a quick and urgent feel. On Music..., Giola pulls out his tenor, and the track also has a long intro. "Spin With EARth" compares similarly. On the Zero-version, Giola plays an octave above what he plays on Music, and again the Zero-version is more of a romp than on the other record. For now, I prefer Zero Degree Music's urgency too Music...'s more relaxed feel.

"Running Upsidedown" on Music... has a urgency about it similar to "On Avenue X" and "Spin..." on Zero, and has become a favorite. Lane plays a running bass line over Anderson's skittering drumming, while Giola lays out long tones that eventually excels into a scream. Lovely.

If you have trouble finding the records at your local, try Jazz Loft, an excellent on-line store.

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