Spacer (Delmark; 2011)
Jason Adasiewicz (vibes)
Nate McBride (bass)
Mike Reed (drums)
Jason Adasiewicz is burning a lasting impression on the Chicago jazz scene and the global scene as of late. His last album, and introduction to his new trio, Sun Rooms (Delmark; 2010) garnered justifiable critical acclaim. His trio have followed that up with the mystical Spacer (Delmark). While I've always seen him as this combination of Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Dave Pike and Bobby Hutcherson, Adasiewicz has really come into his own with unique structures and patterns on Spacer that really are astonishing.
The quiet improvisational "Solo One" opens the proceedings to be followed by the hypnotic "Hi-Touch" which slowly gathers each member's thoughts and patterns and wraps them around a more modern bebop groove. The unity that the trio exemplifies on "Run Fly" is sublime. There's an understanding between Adasiewicz and Reed where as they are almost performing in counterpart, somehow it all burns together as one. Then midway into the piece, McBride's thumping and plucking boils in the background and your senses start to move from one instrument to the other. Reed's brief solo towards the end allows the band to turn and refocus as a unit in order to head out to the conclusion.
"The Volunteer," written by McBride is a slow angular groove that while dominated by pulsating tones of Adasiewicz and Reed are molded around some bright and crafty lyricism from McBride. The soft brushes, subtle mallet touches and string movements that open "Bobbie" is beautiful. This ballad, written by one of Adasiewicz's fellow collaborators, Eric Boeren, is soft, sweet and romantic but still has the ethereal affect circling around the melody.
There's certain timbre to Adasiewicz music that most fans are familiar with. It's the way the tunes build, float and gravitate. "Waiting For The Attic" is just that kind of tune. It builds nicely and there are a number of improvised sections that are played to such a perfection that they feel like written notes. The piece then travels to climax in the middle with all instruments rolling along. And then gently settles you down for the conclusion.
I had been wanting to write a piece on Spacer for weeks now. I had intended it to be on my best of 2011 list but I just didn't get the time to absorb the music as much as I liked in order to put word to paper. I'm actually glad I waited, because no matter what, this is definitely one best records to have heard at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. Jason Adasiewicz has reinvented the vibes and turned the sound into something more other-worldly. And with Spacer, he has created his best work yet. Highly Recommended.