Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore's "Three Kinds of Happiness"

Chicago-based bass clarinet specialist Jason Stein is a busy fella, touring the U.S. and Europe both solo and with a variety of collaborators. Locksmith Isidore is his band with bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride. On his works I've heard previously -- the solo In Exchange for a Process and the previous Locksmith Isidore release, Three Less Than Between, Stein's delivered the most exploratory and experimental sort of playing. His most recent offering, on the Polish Not Two label, bears a title which might allude to the Bhagavad-Gita, Wittgenstein, or the psychologist Martin Seligman, depending; Stein's not saying. Three Kinds of Happiness features some of his most straight-ahead playing yet -- think Archie Shepp at his most Websterian, or Stein's teacher David Murray when he decides to swing -- as well as a higher degree of premeditation than was heard in his earlier, freewheeling work.

The upper-register trills on the theme of opener "Crayons for Sammy" evoke Eastern European roots, a reminder that Stein named his band in honor of his grandfather's trade. "Cash, Couch, and Camper" unfolds at a leisurely pace, with Stein extemporizing at length over a loping bass walk by Roebke. (Throughout, the rhythm players provide deft but supportive backing.) Stein makes his big, unwieldy horn sing plaintively on the sweet ballad "Little Bird," while demonstrating that he hasn't abandoned the freedom principle by unleashing a Dolphy-esque cascade of rapid-fire notes over the blues changes of "More Gone Door Gone." The impressionistic opening of "Ground Floor South," which features an effective arco statement by the bassist, gives way to another lyrical theme before segueing smoothly into "Arch and Shipp," the album's most "outside" interlude. Three Kinds of Happiness abounds in the hallmarks of the best small group jazz: the richness and intimacy of the sound, the empathy between the performers and their fecundity of improvisational ideas.


Post a Comment

<< Home