BRASSUM – Live

(pfMENTUM)

Does someone remember Bill Frisell’s music circa “Rambler”, way before it became a truck driver’s wet dream? Well, Brassum sound like a cross of that – minus Frisell – and Frank Zappa’s recently rediscovered “Petite Wazoo”; but there is so much more. A quartet led by tuba player Mark Weaver, featuring Dan Clucas on cornet, Michael Vlatkovitch on trombone and Harris Eisenstadt on drums, this band is a peculiar assemblage of theatrical method and half-ironic, half-dramatic lyricism. The seven compositions, all penned by Weaver, show an almost painful progression towards the core of a music which accepts no sticker and moves according to contrapuntal laws gathering funeral marching and jazz structuralism, all the way through dozens of impulsive sketches and memorable themes. Two of the pieces are indeed trios; in one of them (“Brown blue”) Clucas delivers a gorgeous cornet solo. The leader’s bass lines are cleverly intelligible, the proper skeleton of a sound body that walks and runs without any stumbling. Vlatkovitch and Eisenstadt play with the same attitude of a couple of conservatory-trained street jugglers, adding a touch of beautifully restrained freedom to the whole. The musicians’ tightness makes this release sound like a studio album, as these guys tend to cohesion rather than spread away from a center. It feels just right.

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