Peter Van Huffel: alto saxophone, clarinet; Michael Bates: bass; Jeff Davis: drums
After nearly a year from the release of Boom Crane, and having this commentator granted a sizeable amount of analysis to its content over the last days, what the mind sees is a contradiction of sorts between the album’s title – implying a devastating power, on paper – and the disciplined lucidity that permeates the trio’s interplay, aligning the music to areas not exactly neighboring with blaring fury and crumbling walls.
This CD is, by all means, an illustration of how jazz can evolve bit by bit through the addition of compositional factors unheralded in such a context (say, a fast alteration of both tempo and velocity inside an apparently natural swinging constitution, as occurring in “Automatic Vaudeville”). It is also a way to inspire the listener to abandon – at least for an hour or so – the classic “glass-in-the-hand, head-oscillating-to-the-pulse” attitude concomitant to analogous environments.
The musicians’ repute is merited. Van Huffel’s many-sided prowess has been tested and acknowledged time and again; transcending schemes comes easy for him as he roams across modes and scales, yet he’s particularly effective when immersed in the elegant rationalism of a given theme, sometimes obstinately (“Not A Living Soul”). Bates can comp with feline sensuality and sustain any tougher condition with sensible regard to the interrelatedness of rhythm and phrase. Davis’ precise, articulate drumming becomes a frothy waterfall when required, his command of awkward figurations revealing the essence of a performer truly aware of life’s inherent scansions.
All in all, an item that needs perseverance to fully unwrap its values. They are numerous, if you ask me.