JON RASKIN / CHRIS BROWN / JASON HOOPES / VLADIMIR TARASOV – Synergy Signals

Artifact Recordings

This quartet from the Bay Area comprises artists gifted with impressive curricula. That they have a lot to say in an improvisational context seems therefore pretty normal. In too many similar circumstances we are overwhelmed by a parallelism of egos rather than enjoying a genuine conversation. However Jon Raskin (saxes), Chris Brown (piano and electronics), Jason Hoopes (bass) and Vladimir Tarasov (drums) combine a rational reciprocity with the experience of a communicative instrumentalist. The outcome definitely benefits from that.

A (moderate) stylistic versatility is the album’s main feature, within the single track as well. Take “Foldover” as an example. Tarasov starts alone in full-swing mode; after a short while everything calms down, Raskin and Brown intent in noir-ish interaction, Hoopes weaving a discreet solidity behind them. The interplay evolves both dynamically and contrapuntally from then on, briefly transporting us into free jazz with sudden detours towards a quietness dotted with electronic irregularities. This sort of pause gives a listener time to digest the knottiness, and focus on the point from which the musicians depart for further swapping of immediate propositions. The longest episode – “Emergent” – is paradigmatic of this philosophy of constant interchange.

Even in more intricate situations – I am thinking of “Magnetic Fields”, a piece replete with tense talkativeness – the music’s presence never becomes undesirable. Whatever hint to any (theoretical) genre is made, the act of listening remains a pleasure. One may elect to inspect the individual activity, studying movements and directions of a given performer. Or else, just let the overall vivaciousness spread, in the room and inside your head. Whether it is a union of uncommon resonances, or joint discordant currents beyond apparent normality, there’s always something below the surface that differentiates these gentlemen’s work from a mere gathering of talents noodling around.

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