Monday, March 17, 2014

Oles Brothers / Rob Brown – Live At SJC (2009) ***1/2

Marcin Oles - bass
Bartlomiej Brat Oles - drums
Rob Brown - saxophone


By Adam Baruch

This is a trio album by Polish Jazz heroes, brothers Marcin Oles (bass) and Bartlomiej Brat Oles (drums) collectively know as Oles Brothers, joined by American saxophonist Rob Brown, one of the most prolific and active NY scene Free Jazz players. The album comprises of seven original compositions, the opening three being parts of a three-part suite. All the music was composed by Bartlomiej except for one tune composed by Marcin. The album was recorded live and is a part of the "Live Series" of releases on the Oles Brothers owned Fenommedia Records.

The music is typical contemporary Jazz, which allows for a large degree of freedom and extended improvisation but stays within the pre-composed melodic framework. Brown dominates the album with his very busy way of playing, and the rhythm section supports him marvelously, easy changing tempi back and forth between medium to fast, like true professionals.

Although the cooperation between the musicians and the individual statements are without doubt all excellent, personally I enjoy more the moments when the rhythm section plays alone rather than when the saxophone is up front. That laborious wall of sound effect, which is typical of most American Free Jazz players and which unfortunately did not evolve an inch in the last few decades, is already exhausted as far as I am concerned. I mean is anybody able to express more emotion in their music by imitating the prophets like John Coltrane or Albert Ayler or Eric Dolphy? Brown belongs to a large group of American improvisers, which simply is unable to rejuvenate the idea and move forward. Therefore during the moments when Brown plays sparingly and melodically, as he does on the one before last track, he is truly excellent but when he erupts into the extended, aggressive improvisations, my defense mechanism is fully deployed.

All things considered this is a fine modern Jazz album, mostly due to the excellent work done by the rhythm section, which emphasizes the fact that the language of Jazz knows no geographic or political boundaries and it's all up to people to make music together regardless of their origins. Not very innovative and sometimes a bit unnerving, but something Free Jazz fans should definitely enjoy immensely.

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