Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor – Long Tall Sunshine
It is always encouraging to hear a new album from a senior member of the creative jazz community, especially one with as long and rich a track record as Barry Altschul. His 3Dom Factor trio includes fellow veteran Joe Fonda on bass along with the much younger (yet still quite experienced) Jon Irabagon on sax. The album was recorded in Spring 2019 during the group’s European tour, and features four pieces previously appearing on the band’s previous three albums, as well as a formerly-unrecorded piece. But generational differences and music origins aside, the most immediately remarkable features of Long Tall Sunshine are its sheer energy level as well as its blend of inside and outside jazz stylings. Altschul keeps the tempo moving with supple snare / cymbal work and busy fills. Irabagon follows in kind with brisk runs of notes in between more traditional-sounding themes and punctuated explorations (sounding a bit like Anthony Braxton in the process). Fonda, of course, gives his bass a workout, characteristically hitting notes when you don’t expect them. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable effort that covers a vast swathe of ground.
Jakob Heinemann – Fragmentations
Bassist Jakob Heinemann provides this freely improvised solo effort as a followup to his 2019 release of a similar nature, Latticework (reviewed here). He employs a combination of bowing and plucking along with extended techniques for both to create a surprisingly rich and propulsive account. The four tracks on Fragmentations, totaling about 25 minutes, are roughly textured with distorted sawing creating both slow dronings as well shrill wails. Heinemann also taps the fretboard and body of his instrument as both accompaniment to his own playing as well as to create parallel or leading themes. All of this takes place at a surprisingly rapid tempo, with Heinemann filling space with notes. Fragmentations is ultimately an experimental release with the bass being used as a conduit for sounds in general rather than its conventional purposes. In that context, the album is a compelling success.