Furiously repositioning chunks of knowledge to create momentous jazz is not an imperative. Hard Knocks – the newest outing by double bassist Sean Conly, here aided by alto saxophonist Michael Attias and drummer Satoshi Takeishi – disseminates pearls of acoustic percipience whose usefulness may not be immediately acknowledged without setting aside some quality time.
The effects of the trio’s work over six tracks push us at safe distance from the recollections of obsolescent clowning typically camouflaged as virtuosity. Nevertheless, we’re obviously dealing with musicians gifted with impressive technical grip. Attias performs its “singing” duties with dignified pragmatism, exploring the interstices of the thematic materials in fairly rational fashion. Takeishi’s sound is compact in terms of timbre and equally commonsensical when it comes to sustaining grooves or splintering tempos. By focusing on the correct development of a composition’s backbone more than shedding light on personal capacities, Conly combines the components of a discriminating musicianship in diversified contexts. He’s entirely at ease inside odd-metered involvement (“Loose Screws”) or in serene discreetness (“Undertow”), his quiet power perceptible throughout the set.
This is a finely tuned ensemble whose interaction stems from reciprocal trust and, accordingly, is completely devoid of bombast. If you’re into the sacred fire of screaming urgency, probably this is not the right place to be (though one never stops learning). But if intelligent jazz is still an utopia worthy of pursuing, these gentlemen definitely know how to help.