Street Date 05/15/12
RareNoise Records seems to be navigating the jazz landscape in a stealth-like fashion. The incredible debut release What's The Meaning from the formidable 4tet Mole is further proof that RareNoise is on the cutting edge of modern jazz. Provocative, inventive and revolutionary modern jazz are but umbrella terms to describe both the label and Mole.
Genre driven jazz is not an issue here as the amazing talents of pianist/composer Mark Aanderud and drummer Hernan Hecht are fused together to create an evolving sound scape that transcends the modern jazz experience and advances the music to one of the finest hybrids of broad based sonic expression one may hear. While at times minimalistic there is an expansive and textured nature to What's The Meaning that offers a taste of something for most everyone. Hecht describes this release as the musical sum of their experiences related to jazz as well as other artistic forms and functionality. What sets the auspicious debut apart is that fusion is clearly not the predominant sub genre here anymore than one could hang their hat on the label of modern jazz. This is contemporary music with an originality and sonic heartbeat of very individualistic dimensions. Radiohead meets Kurt Rosenwinkel? Perhaps.
New York guitarist David Gilmore whose musical pedigree includes playing and touring with the likes of Wayne Shorter more than steals the spotlight on several tunes includes the percussive yet lyrically driven and intense "Stones." Another positive is that the contributions from all the participants including bassist Jorge "Luri" Molina simply reinforce and solidify a solid but organic lyrically driven pulse that is prevalent without sounding programmed or self indulgent. "Greenland" is a groove you can fuse. Fortified funk with percussive pop and the clean angular playing of Gilmore is like a golden thread in a sonic tapestry where there is a lyrical sense of purpose yet the excitement of hearing a 4tet not afraid to work without a harmonic net. Opening with a more free form approach "PB" does go to the edge of the odd meter cliff but never takes itself or the listener over the edge. The groove laid down by Molina is another golden thread allowing drummer Hecht the freedom to play with freedom and finesse as Gilmore joins with a warm fluid direction as again the industry driven labels are sidestepped with relative ease. Subtle nuance takes on a new meaning and new direction when music is free to develop in a more natural setting. This is organic jazz on steroids. "Flour Tortilla Variation" hovers around the fringes of rock with inspired playing of Aanderud's pounding piano and the understated yet firmly anchored groove set down by Hecht. Gilmore contributes a jaw dropping solo that will have the most discriminating of six string enthusiasts suitably impressed.
A sonic tapestry borders on the cliche. A mosaic may be more accurate as the pieces are unique in every possible way yet shine brilliantly either individually or as a collective work. Variety. There is a strong lyrical base with an infectious harmonic development and within this we find a 4tet with the chops to occasionally hang out in the odd meter without overstaying their welcome to the end result of self indulgence that loses credibility.
A well crafted and evocative work that is virtually flawless in performance and presentation.
So...What's The Meaning?
That is up to you.
5 Huge Stars!
Tracks: PB; Stones; Trees And The Old New Ones; Flour Tortilla Variation; What's The Meaning?; Greenland; Grass; Grubenid.
Personnel: Mark Aanderud: piano; Hernan Hect: drums; David Gilmore: guitar; Jorge "Luri" Molina: upright bass.