Friday, April 8, 2011

Michael Bisio, Covert Choreography, 1996

We turn back the clock today to 1996, and an album that has not been given its due. I'm talking about the Michael Bisio Quintet's Covert Choreography (Cadence Jazz 1063). It documents a part of the lively Pacific Coast improvisatory scene of those days; it gives equal weight to the bass playing and compositional side of Michael Bisio's work of those years; and it features some excellent musicians who perhaps do not get the recognition they deserve.

The central focus of the album is on the title cut, a 40 minute opus, with compositional elements occurring as signposts throughout, and plenty of room for the players to stretch out and solo in various settings, swingtime, freetime and out-of-time instrumental combinations. Michael Bisio, of course, has by this point gelled in his playing approach to an all-over propulsive dynamo whether in pizzicato or arco mode. Eyvind Kang is Michael's violinistic counterpart, with an energetic approach, the technique and projection of a Michael White and the energy of Leroy Jenkins in overdrive. Rob Blakeslee wields a rootsy yet out trumpet that contrasts nicely in sound color with the other soloists. Ed Pias swings and gives a surcharge of energy to the ensemble in ways that show his sense, taste and keen ears. Bob Nell is a pianistic revelation, a cut-and-dash charge of adreniline at his most frenetic, a man with bop and after roots, and an out lyricists in the less propulsive passages. He's someone I am glad to be catching up with.

After "Covert," things get a bit more intimate with some excellent duets between Michael Bisio and Bob Nell on "He's Everyone I Ever Knew," and Michael and Rob Blakeslee on "Spheroid". The album concludes with nine minutes of boisterous violin, high-voltage bowed bass and bombastic drums on "Geographically Correct." In the end you feel satiated and, if you are like me, quite satisfied that something good has taken place.

There you have the basic run-down. It's a beautiful free date that shows what very good music was coming out of Seattle in this period, with an excellent ensemble and Michael Bisio in top form.

This is a sleeping gem that needs to be awakened by you. Get a copy and dig it. Click on the CIMP Records link on this page and once there, click on Cadence Jazz Records and you'll find the complete details on the album and, if you like, have the opportunity to order a copy.

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