Pianist Mara Rosenbloom pays tribute to her Wisconsin roots on Prairie Burn | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Pianist Mara Rosenbloom pays tribute to her Wisconsin roots on Prairie Burn 

click to enlarge Mara Rosenbloom

Mara Rosenbloom

Antonio Porcar

Last year the New York-based pianist Mara Rosenbloom took a bold step forward with her third album, Prairie Burn (Fresh Sound New Talent), an incisive outing named for the practice of using controlled fires to encourage the natural preservation and renewal of indigenous growth. Rosenbloom, who grew up near Madison, Wisconsin, thought of the process while rethinking her work following lessons from jazz pianist Connie Crothers. As she told me during an interview earlier this year, “I was sort of looking to make something that could be like that: Can we just set loose this energy and sort of let go of everything? Maybe the things that are vital—we’re gonna see if they hold, and maybe even reveal themselves.” Her music with bassist Sean Conly and drummer Chad Taylor accomplishes just that. The trio achieves an elusive chemistry and degree of spontaneous interaction that transcends mental boundaries. The compositions, especially the four-part title suite, ripple, surge, and shimmer with ruminative rigor. Rosenbloom unleashes a burnished, smoldering lyric quality on pieces that eschew linear structuring devices in favor of natural, flowing developments, her deft rhythm section supporting every twist and curve. Prairie Burn ends with a couple of equally powerful solo pieces: an homage to John Lee Hooker called “I Rolled and I Tumbled” and a probing, conversational, and characteristically idiosyncratic take on the standard “There Will Never Be Another You.” In her Chicago debut she leads a trio with bass clarinetist Jason Stein and drummer Mike Reed, performing a new suite of music all about breathing.   v

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