Confluence is the fourth release as a leader for bassist and composer Dave Phillips and Freedance. This most ambitious 4tet is the sonic equivalent to feung shew. A individual semblance of order carefully positioned within an overall group dynamic anchored in a controlled sonic chaos that thanks to folk like melodies, odd meters and dynamic interplay we end up with modern chamber jazz. Elegant while still a little rough around the edges.
Pianist Jon Werking and percussionist Glen Fritten were asked to join in on the festivities and despite the 4tet itself having been together some two decades both Weking and Fitten and incredible texture and aesthetic appeal that pushes the natural chemistry of the band to new heights. An elusive three dimensional textured sound is the end result with a broad based and far reaching lyrical dynamic permeating the bands latest offering.
Opening with an introspective alto sax solo from John O'Gallagher complemented by Rez Abbasi's comp work on guitar a syncopated free jazz approach slowly develops. The shifting meter is seamless while drummer Tony Moreno owns the pocket. Phillips and Fitten round out a stellar rhythm section while O'Gallagher continues his sonic road less traveled into a harmonic no man's land only to be joined by Abbasi. Controlled sonic fury and a bit mystified as to how the generic sub genre "chamber jazz" could find its way into the mix but the prolific talents if not obvious chemistry are a beautiful thing. "Cricket Song" is an odd if not whimsical look at the cricket with an intriguing rhythmic texture carried out by percussionist Fitten and saxophonist O'Gallagher. There is a deceptively subtle Indian undercurrent which again is pure flavor. Abbasi delivers the goods as a six string chameleon fitting in around and as needed. Phillips percussive prowess on bass and his amazing technique is at times jaw dropping but the consistency and depth of his compositions are seemingly where he shines best. "Confluence" is like rolling thunder moving in before hand and setting up a dynamic tension before one is quite sure what will happen next. A sonic exploratory led by O'Gallagher with all the appropriate sonic nuances from the ensemble allows the listener to hear something new with each spin of the disc. Abbasi and O'Gallagher are virtuoso talents while Phillips leads the rhythm section down that proverbial sonic road less traveled and with great lyrical finesse.
Chamber jazz? No...I've heard chamber jazz, this is not it. What this is might be best described as organic hard bop with a lyrical direction few groups could master when performing music at such an incredibly high level of proficiency. Phillips from just a compositional standpoint is a beast and he posses the uncanny knack to pick the right people for the right spots.
My only possible critique might be that Phillips was buried too far in the mix, perhaps that was by design but Confluence is a remarkable recording with a brilliant harmonic tale to tell!
Tracks: Exit 13; Pyramids; Cricket Song; RT; Tanchaz; Gathering Rain; Confluence; Mistral.
Personnel: John O' Gallagher: alto sax; Rez Abbasi: guitars; Tony Moreno: drums; Dave Phillips: bass, compositions; Glen Fitten: percussion; Jon Werking: piano.