Total honesty corner. These days, it’s quite hard to get veritable stimulation by a record built upon jazz-derived sonorities, impermanent (as in this case) or less. That I’m still receiving a hefty amount of analogous materials is baffling, to say the least. There are specialized writers around whose reports about these things are utterly elucidative, and a joy to read with all those historical insights. Me? I’m just one who pays attention while listening in order to speak his musician’s mind (and, whenever necessary, heart).
The joint endowments and curricula of saxophonist Jeff Pearring, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Carlo Costa are definitely praiseworthy. The addition of the late Connie Crothers’s pianism is the proverbial icing on the cake, Pearring having been a student of hers. True Story is a wholly improvised set, but retains certain identifying features of semi-structured jazz: unaltered acoustic timbres, contrapuntal activity halfway through a relative immunity from schemes and instinctive retrieval of implicit orders, a fair degree of breathing space left for musicians and listeners alike.
Now and then the players start from a conception recalling a functional orchestral mechanism just to dismantle its traits little by little, each individuality following a line of thought that may or may not lead back to a genuine sense of collectivity. Tensions appear, yet they’re never energy-consuming in a literal acceptation; we’re always put in the condition of observing the development of the single paths, appropriately adjusting the interplay’s details to our own mental panning. No controversies or fighting instincts: the music is performed with unruffled expertise. Dissonance appears as a logical consequence more than a necessity, and there are passages where spontaneous vamps and themes emerge so assuredly that they almost seem rehearsed.
Is all of the above a list of qualities, or a reason for coldness by certified jazz sectarians? The answer lies somewhere in the middle. For sure the album deserves several attempts, if only to understand how arduous combining voices in such a context is without sounding derivative or, even worse, stale. Something that – for good luck – didn’t occur here, independently from the reviewer’s personal opinions on the music’s indispensableness.