Monday, July 20, 2015

Rich Halley 4, Creating Structure

Tenor saxophonist-bandleader Rich Halley continues to give us his special brand of west coast free-avant jazz. If I've already covered a good number of his releases since starting these blogs (type his name in the search box) it's because each album has had something to say. As the Rich Halley 4 has stabilized in recent years with the second solo voice of Michael Vlatkovich on trombone, Clyde Reed on acoustic bass and Rich's son Carson on drums, the band has continued to gain a kind of togetherness that comes out of long-term interaction.

We hear the latest fruition of their growth as a quartet on the new one, Creating Structure (Pine Eagle 007). The idea on this album is to delve into multiple relatively short collectively worked-out compositions, 16 in all.

Each has a particular mood, has its say and then moves on. As the title of the album suggests, there is structure to be had in the band's freedom. Part of it is spontaneous, a product of knowing the stylistic propensities of each of the foursome and opening up to them. Other pieces seem to be a little more sketched out, yet no less immediate for it.

The Halley-Vlatkovich front line has evolved into a loosely-tight team, with each playing a role subject to the moment, lucid, contentful. The same can be said for the Reed-Carson rhythm section. Carson and Reed have locked in as a unit and play off against the horns in open synchrony, each with a well-developed voice.

The sheer variety of moments on this 16-part totality keeps the ears fresh. But of course that is only because everyone has developed a full identity while putting forth the kind of group give-and-take that comes over time.

Rich does some of his finest playing on this one. But then everybody seems primed and conversationally loquacious.

An excellent date. If you don't have any Halley as yet, start here!

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