Joseph Daley, Warren Smith & Scott Robinson, 'The Tuba Trio Chronicles,' [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Jan 03, 2016 01:21 PM EST
Joseph Daley Low Brass Master Joseph Daley (Photo : courtesy Jazz Promo Services)

The new year brings new music that questions the very existence of the parameters that define and categorize free jazz. Simply stated, The Tuba Trio Chronicles (Joda Music) is Joseph Daley on tuba, Warren Smith on drums and Scott Robinson on saxophone, but that enticement is woefully inaccurate. For it is the ghost of Sam Rivers [1923-2011], and his original Tuba Trio, that permeates the proceedings.

The six Daley originals and one Rivers cover ("Beatrice") span the range of sound exploration, akin to what the Art Ensemble of Chicago did in the 1960s and beyond. Smith, for instance, doesn't just play drums but vibraphone, bass, marimba, gongs, Chinese cymbals, crotales (oftentimes referred to as "ancient cymbals"), tympani and other esoteric small contraptions that make percussive sounds. Scott doesn't just blow tenor sax but bass sax, bass flute, contrabass sarrusophone (the lowest of the low tubas), contra alto clarinet, jazzophone (a rare sax-shaped double-belled brass instrument), theremin and, most rare of all, waterphone (an acoustic percussion instrument that gives the sound an ethereal underwater dreamlike quality). Daley plays "only"  tuba (both open and muted), euphonium and a series of electronically enhanced processed sounds that beg to be explained by someone else in another article.

Suffice it to say that all of the aforementioned matters not upon listening to this NEW music in all of its complexity, circuitous meandering improvisation and forthright accessibility. That's right -- it's downright beautiful, accessible, gnarly and wildly entertaining fun. "Beatrice" is over 20 minutes long. "Modality" is just bass marimba, tuba and sax swirling around in a deep blue modal route. "Emergence" is atmospheric mood music, highly evocative, like a soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist.

Sam Rivers regularly went into uncharted waters. As the kingpin of the 1970s New York City loft scene of expressionistic jazz (his Studio RivBea was the place to be), he was a role model, hero and undisguised avatar of newness, in all its configurations. Daley, a composer, arranger, low brass man of the highest order, played with Rivers and soaked up his oeuvre whole to the point where Rivers himself might be smiling down on this undefinable, uncategorizable project. Only hours into the new year and we already have a contender for 2016's Top 10.

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TagsSam Rivers, REVIEW, Joseph Daley, Warren Smith, Scott Robinson

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