The sound streams of Jason Roebke's Combination | Bleader

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The sound streams of Jason Roebke's Combination

Posted By on 10.18.11 at 11:00 AM

Jason Roebke
  • Jason Roebke
Bassist Jason Roebke is a rock of the local jazz and improvised music scene, stealthily getting the job done in a slew of excellent bands—from Mike Reed’s People, Place and Things to James Falzone’s Klang to the Jeb Bishop Trio, among others. Tonight he plays at the Whistler as a member of cornetist Josh Berman’s new quartet. Since moving to Chicago back in 1999 he has only occasionally led his own groups. In fact, his current quartet, the Jason Roebke Combination, which plays on Wednesday night at the Hideout, has only performed a couple of times since debuting about a year ago. To a large degree the infrequency has something to do with the fact that alto saxophonist Greg Ward lives in New York these days, but I think local listeners would be smart to pay attention to this band—maybe it could result in more gigs.

The group made an as-yet-unreleased recording a year ago, and it’s impressive. Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly are superb, shaping fleet grooves that give Ward plenty of leeway, whether unspooling quicksilver bebop lines of remarkable clarity on a piece like “Forgetting” or shaping fractured melodic shards in a vinegary tone as on the beautifully strangulated “Centering,” which you can listen to below. The wild card of the band is Brian Labycz, who’s modular synthesizer lines consistently crack the band’s glassy veneer—dissonant, grimy, and jagged. In an email exchange about a solo record he made last year, Roebke wrote “I am thinking of streams of material that come in an out and sometimes overlap. I always want to make my solo pieces rich and full sounding while keeping the idea of one person playing, and the thinness of that, as two ideas that compete in some, hopefully, compelling way.” He also wrote, “So for the new quartet project, I want to explore how four quite different musicians use variations on these streaming ideas. I'm proposing some different strategies for group improvisation. Maybe just so it can all go completely free again.” The recording is anything but completely free, but each musician is accorded loads of space—I can only guess what they could do if they got to play more often.

Centering by jasonroebke

Today’s playlist:

Erin McKeown, Hundreds of Lions (Righteous Babe)
Polar Bear, Peepers (Leaf)
Phil Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, Armageddon (Katalyst)
Taylor Ho Bynum, John Hébert and Gerald Cleaver, Book of Three (Rogue Art)
Anna King, Back to Soul (Shout!)

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