San Francisco Bay Area drummer Vijay Anderson put together his Silverscreen Sextet in 2017 and this recording captures two performances from the following year. Joining him were Bobby Bradford on cornet, Vinny Golia on clarinet and sax, Roberto Miranda on bass, Hafez Modirzadeh on sax, and William Roper on tuba as well as a few other found object instruments. The result is a set with an orchestral jazz feel that varies in the degree to which it colors outside of the lines.
Case in point, Anderson and Miranda (often with help from Roper) set forth intense walking rhythms that border on swinging, but are accompanied by more disjointed explorations by the others. While never quite conventional, the horns and winds produce themes that can be catchy as well as challenging. Throughout this, the melodies are cogent and structured, rarely boiling over into free-form blowouts, yet remaining loose and adaptive. At points, such as during The Insidewalk, there are multiple contrapuntal solos, with dueling intertwined lines. On the other hand, House of Vetes has straighter rhythms with rising and falling patterns of notes that evolve into cooperative soloing.
Calling the Silverscreen Sextet “free jazz” would not do it justice, as that is just one of many styles that the group adapts into an amalgam of techniques, colors, and textures. If a label is necessary, let’s refer to this album as “adventurous jazz”, of which it is an excellent sample.