DANNY KAMINS / DAMON SMITH / ALVIN FIELDER / JOE HERTENSTEIN – After Effects

FMR

When I retrieved this album – sent to me last summer – my curiosity was tickled by an expression used by double bassist Damon Smith to explain the music: “between sound and swing”. Having now savored the entire set, “and rock” should perhaps be added. Indeed these gentlemen rock, in a peculiar way; the interplay’s brightness reveals an undiluted strength and a determination to achieve valuable results. Even the track titles, suggesting a sequence of weather-related phenomena in a marine site, seem to validate the hypothesis.

The involvement of two drummers (Alvin Fielder and Joe Hertenstein) in the quartet is definitely one of the reasons behind the sense of refined sturdiness conveyed by After Effects. Considering that Danny Kamins performs exclusively on the baritone sax, it’s pretty easy to register this as an ensemble thriving in the lower zones of the acoustic gamut. In such a setting, questions may arise: how to avoid skirmishes among the percussive components, and how to differentiate the individual inclinations within the textural concentration, beyond the obvious timbral differences?

The answers furnished by the musicians are quite logical: a realistic conciseness in terms of phrasing, and a watchful perception of what the partners are saying. All the improvisations are in fact informed by a “restraint inside the force” manner of expliciting the single voices (which, exactly for this reason, trigger a counterpoint of impressive clarity notwithstanding the deduced brawniness). Make no mistake, scenes appear where a relative peace is maintained with controlled deftness; for instance, the beginning of “The Wind”, subsequently evolving – you guessed it – into unceremonious swinging. In those junctures, the reciprocal influence pushes the instrumentalists towards an area where the intrinsic micro-structure of a given timbre dictates precise coordinates for the improvisation to move around. Rarefied instants for sensible ears.

I warmly welcome records indicating that there are still possibilities for a listener to approach jazz-derived forms without mentally exclaiming “oh, no!” or – worse yet – constantly looking at the remaining time, which is happening rather frequently of late. This solid outing is worth every minute you will want to dedicate to it, the expressive flames kept alive and burning, the addressees never intoxicated by the fumes of triteness.

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