Allocating his time between Europe and New York City, Swiss-born trombone maestro Samuel Blaser has recorded for prominent record labels, specializing in the outside jazz realm. Thus, As The Sea is the quartet's follow-up to Boundless (hatOLOGY, 2011). Blaser's recognizable plight to lay out nouveau frontiers remains a continuum. No wonder why he's garnered the assistance of such reputable instrumentalists. Otherwise, the program contains a flux of contrapuntal statements. His musicality imparts breathy expansionism amid swarming movements that are purposely chaotic, and feature improvisation that at times seems to be somewhat calculated by design. Nonetheless, Blaser allows the band to remain flexible whether it's banging out semi-structured grooves or floating through wily dialogues, tinged with his drawling extended notes, blended tonalities and splintering runs.
French guitar titan Marc Ducret's winding, distortion-laced voicings add a bit of clamor and angst to the vibrant game-plan. On the flip side, Blaser's compositions are mosaics, and it's not largely about free-form riffing. The quartet can float like a butterfly or hammer motifs into submission. Hence "As The Sea, Part 4" is an extraordinary work, where Blaser unifies a breezy, lighthearted and off-the-cuff melody into challenging group-centric unison choruses via Frank Zappa-like cohesion and precision. With bluesy undertones and drummer Gerald Cleaver's swaggering pulse steering the midsection, the band mixes it up. However, Ducret offers a change of scenery by going on a relentless tear that equates to a musical supernova. Moving forward, the quartet revisits the primary theme for the finale.
Blaser's multifaceted dynamics and insightful compositional acumen sparks a massive body of knowledge, seasoned with the instrumentalists' impressive technical faculties and sympathetic treatments under the canopy. Indeed, a striking exposition from this nascent talent who artfully defies mainstream principles and packs a mighty punch along the way.
Track Listing: As The Sea, Part 1; As The Sea, Part 2; As The Sea, Part 3; As The Sea, Part 4.
Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone; Marc Ducret: guitar; Banz Oester: double bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.