Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bassist Ken Filiano and Quantum Entaglements: Dreams From A Clown Car

Ken Filiano is one of those bassists who have established bonafide credentials in the advanced jazz network as one of the leading instrumentalists of his generation. If you know his playing you know it is dead centered on communicating all facets of the complete contrabass experience.

Listen to his Dreams From A Clown Car (Clean Feed 207) and you'll hear all of that. Bowing or pizzicato he tears forth into an expressive zone and stays right there throughout.

He knows what cats to get on his team too. The one-two punch of Michael Attias and Tony Malaby on reeds, formidable both singly and as a team, virtually guarantees that a high level of musical thought and deed will be reached early on and wont disappear through the course of the entire disk. Michael T. A. Thompson brings in the right combination of power and finesse to this thoughtfully free session. He can create hard-edged washes and rumbles of percussive density, he can lay down a swinging pulse that has variation and drive, and he can sensitively complement the quieter moments too, all in ways that testify to his big ears.

Then there's Ken Filano the crafter of good free playing frameworks, Ken the jazz composer. That's the third piece of what makes the disk at hand stand out. He writes motifs that bring out the potential and considerably realized kinetic energy of the players involved. There are the long-lined pieces like "Baiting Patience" that roll through like a long freight train, continually picking up collective momentum. There are the angular stabbing jabs of melodic distinction too, pieces that set up open-ended blowing possibilities.

In short Dreams From A Clown Car gives you highly evolved, direct yet intricate collective creativity and dynamics. It's one of the finest free dates I've heard so far this year. The right cats, the right material, the right time. A beautiful moment in the new decade and a testament to the continued vitality of the new jazz. That's what we have here. If you are serious about where we are right now this should be on your short list of music to nab. Ken Filano triumphs. Attias, Malaby and Thompson outdo their considerable musical selves. The present is made salient. Jump on this one, no kidding.

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