Though perhaps a contradiction in terms, drummer Abbey Rader approaches free jazz with a sense of discipline. Ritual, released earlier this month, is a demonstration of such. Joined by bassist Kyle Motl and Drew Ceccato on sax, this trio (which is three-fourths of one configuration of the Abbey Rader Quartet) provides five frenetic explorations in the 6-10 minute range. Each track features its share of liberated wailing, but is just long enough to make a discrete statement before ending.
Ritual begins with a mile-a-minute pace that is maintained for the most part. Rader plays with the energy of someone with only half of his 74 years, bashing out heavy cymbal and snare work. His drumming is anything but strictly rhythmic, as it overflows with ideas and changing directions. Motl is not only adept at keeping up – he is in absolutely monstrous form. He moves up and down the fretboard with ease, providing jarring accentuations in between streams of notes. Ceccato’s lines are insistent and rude. He is there to push boundaries and does not seem to care who he might offend in the process.
After reading John Corbett’s A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation, music sounded different to me. Outside albums were more pleasing to the ears when absorbed in accordance with Corbett’s rubric. It would be interesting to find out what he thinks of Ritual, because this is quintessential free jazz. It is played with an urgency that belies its delicacy and attention to detail. An excellent release.