Sunday, January 03, 2010

Frank Rosaly

Chicago's illustrious musical heritage dates back to the 1920s, when King Oliver summoned Louis Armstrong to inaugurate the heroic tradition of the soloist in jazz; the '40s, when Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf established the template for the electric blues band, which in turn begat the guitar-bass-drums rock band; and the '60s, when the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians pushed the boundaries of free jazz past the breakthroughs of Trane, Ornette, and Cecil. Today, the Windy City's probably the only place in these United States outside of, um, Brooklyn where the improv/experimental, rock, and jazz scenes are so intertwined.

Drummer Frank Rosaly's been on the set in Chicago for a decade, playing with a score of bands, composing, recording prolifically, and curating a weekly creative music showcase. He's a disciple of early Ornette/'60s Blue Note main man Billy Higgins, whose influence you can hear in this clip from a recent tour Rosaly undertook with saxophonist Dave Rempis.

On Cyrillic, released 1.12.2010 on 482 Music, the two men demonstrate their versatility within the duo format, covering all the bases from loose-limbed and funky (the opening "Antiphony") to frenetic and intense ("Tainos," the 16-minute tour de force "How To Cross When Bridges Are Out") to spacey and minimalist ("Still Will"). Rempis alternates between alto, tenor, and bari saxes, while Rosaly employs extended techniques as well as traditional trap attacks.

To comprehend the full depth and breadth of Rosaly's achievement, however, you have to hear his solo CD Milkwork (released the same day on Contraphonic), where in the course of a single track ("Adolescents") he'll impersonate both an Indian classical hand drummer and an entire high school drum line. Like Tyshawn Sorey, Rosaly keeps his composer hat on at all times, and you can hear the contours of his compositions even when there's no tonal element present -- which there often is here, thanks to the array of analog synths and effects pedals he uses alongside his drums. On the 12-minute version of "NY Prices!," he comes across like a one-man Heldon -- no small feat. Makes me wish I hadn't missed him when he came through Texas (well, Houston and Austin, anyway) back in October.


Post a Comment

<< Home