AMN Reviews: Dan Rosenboom – Absurd in the Anthropocene (2020; Gearbox Records)

Given world events in the last few years of the Anthropocene, it is without question that some notable ones have been absurd. In response to the associated cognitive dissonance, trumpeter Dan Rosenboom offers these 11 tracks of improvised jazz/rock. And despite its unpredictable nature, Absurd in the Anthropocene still offers some surprisingly tight structures and strong themes.

Rosenboom is joined by a varying mix of co-conspirators, including Jeff Babko on keyboards, Gavin Templeton and David Binney on sax, Tim Lefebvre, Jerry Watts Jr., and Jimmy Johnson on bass, Zach Danziger, Gary Novak, and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Tim Conley, Alexander Noice, and Jake Vossler on guitars, and Troy Zeigler on electronics. Some of these names should be familiar to those following Orenda Records or the Los Angeles creative music scene in general. With the lineup shifting from track to track, Rosenboom is able to easily avoid staidness and cliches.

Indeed, Rosenboom’s works have been compared – in approach at least – to those of the electric Miles era and Frank Zappa. Such reference points are as applicable to this release as they have been in his past efforts. Rosenboom lays down each piece’s complex framework, within which members are able to explore and push boundaries. The result is both energetic and spacious, with high points including Rosenboom’s dual leads with Templeton on Pushed to the Edge of Ideas by Dispassionate Bias-Algorithm Bots (this gets my early vote for song title of the year), as well as his soloing over the sophisticated rhythmic base and heavy guitar riffs of Heliopteryx. Apes in Rapture is another notable track, with jagged motifs, rapid-fire soloing, and (if I’m not mistaken) a title that is a poke in the eye to a certain constituency.

Throughout, Absurd in the Anthropocene contains a mildly retro feel that might sit well with fans of more traditional jazz despite the album’s modernity and cerebral nature. Clearly, it can be listened to and enjoyed on multiple levels. This is yet another winner from Rosenboom.