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CD Review: Jason Robinson – Tiresian Symmetry

Jason Robinson – Tiresian Symmetry
(Cuneiform Records Rune 346. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Although specifically tied in to the ‘Tiresian Symmmetry’ of its titleboth technically (‘I was intrigued by the numerical relationships [in Tiresias’s life. He] lived seven generations and spent time as both male and female, which gives you 7/2. The pieces I wrote for the album embody those numerical relationships in a variety of forms,’ says composer/saxophonist Jason Robinson) and on a more literary level (‘I was attracted to the myth of the soothsayer, who tells the future even when it’s not welcome information’), this album does not depend, for its considerable effect, on listeners knowing anything about the ancient Greek prophet.

Like its predecessor, The Two Faces of Janus (reviewed here last year), Tiresian Symmetry is an immediately accessible, bustling, occasionally downright raucously rumbustious album packed with rousing, rowdy solos from New York’s finest – reedsmen JD Parranand Marty Ehrlich, guitarist Liberty Ellman, Robinson himself – and propelled by the whirlwind drumming of George Schuller and the elegant propulsiveness of Drew Gress, frequently underpinned by the solid but surprisingly buoyant ‘whump’ of the tubas/bass trombone of Marcus Rojas and Bill Lowe.

Said solos rise naturally and easily from a seething mass of brawling reeds and brass (and occasionally soar plaintively over gentler ensemble playing), and they incorporate as many textures and harmonies from free improvisation as from more straightahead jazz, but overall, it is the sheer textural variety of these eight Robinson pieces (which move uncontrivedly between woozy slinkiness and blurting, blaring urgency) that really impresses; this is a band that clearly loves playing together, and their skill and enthusiasm are enjoyably manifest in everything they address.

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