Following years on the road opening for his half sister Amy Schumer, Jason Stein drops a new album with his trio Locksmith Isidore | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Following years on the road opening for his half sister Amy Schumer, Jason Stein drops a new album with his trio Locksmith Isidore 

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Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore

Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore

Amy Schumer

It’s been eight years since bass clarinetist Jason Stein dropped Three Kinds of Happiness (Not Two), the best and most agile recording thus far by Locksmith Isidore, his trio with bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride, but the group has hardly been inactive. When Stein’s half sister, comedian Amy Schumer, enlisted him as an opening act for her international appearances throughout 2015-2017, he brought along the trio—which emphasized its ability to swing more than its knack for skronk. The heightened energy and rapport the band shows on its new album, After Caroline (Northern Spy), certainly seems like a result of that experience—Pride and Roebke’s booming, muscular drive in particular. There are tunes that deliver an accessible, hard-swinging sound inspired by classic hard bop, such as the buoyant, Monkish “Eckhart Park,” named for the Noble Square park where Stein would sometimes woodshed. But the album’s extroversion in no way diminishes the exploratory vibe always at the heart of the bass clarinetist’s longest-running group. The opening piece, “As Many Chances as You Need,” leaps out of the gate with a wild fury as Pride injects a loping backbeat into the 19/8 groove. “Sternum” digs deeply into pure sound, with Roebke producing astringent bowed lines limned by upper-register bite, Pride rumbling and clattering upon the surface of his kit, and Stein blowing quiet, low-end blobs that bounce around his partners’ activity. On “Walden’s Thing,” named for Stein’s key reed mentor, Donald Walden, Stein tweaks his homage with free-jazz sallies that the titular musician generally would have frowned upon, but within it lies a sincere adoration of music at its most energetic, familiar, and swinging.   v

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