Monday, May 23, 2011

Klang: Other Doors

Klang (group)
Other Doors (Allos Musica; 2011)
James Falzone (clarinet)
Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone)
Jason Roebke (bass)
Tim Daisy (drums)

Guest Musicians
Jeb Bishop (trombone)
Josh Berman (cornet)
Keefe Jackson (sax; bass clarinet)
Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello; electronics)

There once was a time when Benny Goodman was considered "avant garde", "outside the mainstream" or just plain "what the hell was that he just played". Goodman's ground-breaking benchmark, Live At Carnegie Hall is evidence of how left of center Goodman was for his time. Fast forward just under 75 years later to Goodman's hometown of Chicago. You will find a vibrant avant-garde/free jazz scene that while not based on Goodman's playing, definitely has Goodman's spirit of collectiveness. Enter the quartet Klang led by clarinetist, James Falzone. Klang, with an unusual lineup of clarinet, vibes, bass and drum have set forth a different direction compared to their more veracious Chicago contemporaries.

Klang's third album, Other Doors investigates the music and legacy of Mr. Goodman but with a very unique free form spin. The album was originally born out of a Chicago Jazz Festival performance that paid tribute to the Chicago native and legendary clarinetist. Other Doors is fun, crisp and filled with improvised moments that turn this session into one of the best Chicago outings of the last few years. "Stompin' At The Savoy" sounds completely fresh and revitalized in the hands of this quartet. It contains all the elements of the swing classic but it's infused with spontaneous exchanges and ethereal swirls (led by Jason Adasiewicz's always sublime performance on vibes). Falzone's playing is respectful but never imitating. He brings some gentle phrasing to certain lines raising this version far above homage and places it into a post modern must listen.

"Memories Of You", a midtempo ballad gets deep, dark re-visitation under Klang's direction. With some great manipulation of space by Falzone, Adasiewicz, and guest Longberg-Holm. Falzone's performance is passionate and introspective and reflects Goodman's own moments were he gets lost in the music but the listener become wrapped inside the rhythm. The title track has an impressionist approach. It's lyrically beautiful and paints a slow but delightful picture that is led by the horn section. Rich and textural with a free spirit, you will find very rewarding.

"The Already And The Not Yet", a track originally written on one of Falzone's earlier albums by the same name, is a delicate but operatic piece that becomes hypnotic and enveloping towards its conclusion. "Goodman's Paradox" is the moment in which the group let's loose (sort of) and delivers an extended workout of swing and experimentation that will take you by surprise but it fits perfectly in context. Goodman would be wowed.

While each of the members and the guest musicians on Other Doors lead their own groups, as Klang they together achieve something completely different from their respective groups. This is a dynamic quartet that experiments with past themes and creating future music. Other Doors is no tribute. It's a complete enlightened re-imagining of one of the most legendary and important figures in jazz. Highly Recommended.

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