If an artist is the sum total of his experiences, then Scott Colley's reach is nearly limitless. In twenty years the bassist has appeared on nearly 150 albums, ranging from mainstream work with Jim Hall and Carmen McRae to more left-of-center projects with Andrew Hill and Greg Osby. His own releases have been migrating towards a more expansive viewpoint. On Architect of the Silent Moment Colley brings together a collection of players who share his appreciation for what's come before, but are just as concerned with what's to come.
His core quartet features two artists who, despite considerable critical acclaim, have yet to achieve the greater recognition they deserve. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi is a consistently adventurous player who, with a rounded tone, lyrical disposition and unforced technique, rivals the better-known Dave Douglas. The increasingly ubiquitous Craig Taborn is an equally instinctive keyboardist whose roots in the tradition are often obscured by his bold and unrestrained mind-set.
Antonio Sanchez, best-known for his work with guitarist Pat Metheny, is a malleable and increasingly in-demand drummer. He's established himself with a broad and stylistically expanding discography in the last decade.
All three are as capable of tackling complex compositional constructs as freer flights of improvisation, and Colley challenges them on both fronts and more. Colley is a fine bassist, with a Dave Holland-like ability to make even the most challenging of shifting meters groove viscerally. But it's his writing (all but two pieces here are his) that makes Architect of the Silent Moment stand out.
"Window of Time is a good example. It starts out in an open-ended modal fashion, with Alessi and saxophonist David Binney (a co-producer who leaves his own unmistakable signature) delivering Colley's knotty theme. Alessi's solo builds over an increasingly tumultuous rhythm section before the tune shifts to a rhythmically displaced backbeat. Adam Rogers' layered guitars, Taborn's B-3 and Alessi's long, rich tones take the tune out, suggesting a different kind of folksy Americana.
Colley makes the complex accessible on the spacious "Masoosong, featuring Gregoire Maret, the most important harmonica player since Toots Thielmans. "Feign Tonal opens with a start-stop post bop theme before dissolving into more angular freedom, only to magically blend the two at its conclusion. Andrew Hill's "Smokestack, on the other hand, starts with an impressionistic duet between Taborn and pianist Jason Moran, before settling into an unexpectedly relaxed take that seamlessly shifts between straight and double-time swing.
The group's modernistic integration of acoustic and electric textures represents an increasingly popular aesthetic. Like his blend of traditional and contemporary harmonic and rhythmic concepts, Colley clearly doesn't believe in mutual exclusivity. The beauty of Architect of the Silent Moment is its unequivocal sense of purpose, which avoids undue consideration and provides everyone with ample room to move.
Personnel: Scott Colley: bass; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Craig Taborn: piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3; Antonio Sanchez: drums. Special guests: Dave Binney: saxophone; Jason Moran: piano; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Adam Rogers; guitar.