Friday, October 4, 2013

Jonathan Moritz Trio, Secret Tempo

Time today for some free yet structured and compositionally astute blowing from a very good trio. Jonathan Moritz is the bandleader here, wrote the compositions and plays tenor and soprano; Shayna Dulberger is on contrabass; and Mike Pride is on drums. The album is named Secret Tempo (Hot Cup 126), which according to Jonathan refers to unstated contrasting tempos one can evoke during improvising in spite of the particular pulse that dominates overall.

Jonathan is full of good ideas and his compositional frameworks seek to realize some of them. He looks to combine the jazz tradition with modern classical and free elements. He succeeds nicely. This he does with three kinds of compositions: those centered around tempo, those especially concerned with melody, harmony and rhythm, and one focusing on meter. Of course these things overlap but his conceptualization gives the trio a well contrasting variety of avenues into their art.

Jonathan plays saxes in ways that live up to his promise. He can bring out a big, yet whispering tenor sound a la Webster (and Shepp channeling Webster), he can have that dramatic Rivers-and-beyond projection on soprano, can take it out with good torque and he can do many things in between, with a high invention level maintained all the way through.

Shayna Dulberger sounds beautiful throughout, with a rich woody timbre and an iron-fingered attack that sometimes suggest Mingus and Haden at once. Her arco playing is excellent as well. Those and other sounds have the originality of her own musical head in play. Then of course Mike Pride...a drummer perfect for this widely wheeling date. He can go anywhere and everywhere needed and give it all his special creative thrust, swinging, finessing, freetiming, rocking it in straight-eights. He is the man.

And combined in this free-threesome the trio really gets some fine music going. Moritz is a happy confluence of tradition and innovation. Ms. Dulberger and Mr. Pride are right there with him.

Excellent set!

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