(Cuneiform Rune 317 – CD Review by Chris Parker)
‘Dark, muscular and propulsive’ are the adjectives applied by All About Jazz writer Budd Kopman to Carlo De Rosa‘s music, and this, the New York-based bassist/composer’s debut recording as a leader, might have been specially created to embody those qualities. In saxophonist Mark Shim, acoustic pianist/keyboardist Vijay Iyer and drummer Justin Brown, De Rosa has found a suitably resourceful, versatile and responsive band, as adept at rattling and bustling through his more garrulous themes (the rousing opener, ‘Circular Woes’) as they are at gently emoting (‘Maja’) or transforming themselves into an electric ‘fusion’ band drawing on the viscerally affecting punch and power more often associated with rock bands or genre-straddling figures such as Wayne Krantz.
For sheer guts and vitality, a piece such as ‘For Otto’, spun out from a relatively tricksy theme into a climax of roiling intensity courtesy of Shim’s grainy but elegant vigour, Iyer’s compact imaginativeness and – an essential ingredient of the band’s rambunctious sound – Brown’s rackety but precise drumming, is hard to beat, but all the album’s seven tracks (as varied as the many ‘dances’ in its audience’s brains referred to in its title) draw on the crackling energy and fine disdain for arbitrary musical categorisation for which New York’s jazz is rightly celebrated.
Fiery, intelligent but always immediately accessible, Brain Dance should delight any listener interested in what De Rosa, explaining his band’s name, refers to as ‘the point when many things overlap and merge’.
Cross-Fade at Cuneiform Records