Rigby | Fresh Sound New Talent (2006)
June 23, 2006
the competitive New York scene, you’ve got to be more than just a
strong player; you’ve got to have a concept. Woodwind multi-instrumentalist
Jason Rigby’s eclectic yet focused debut, Translucent Space, is one
of those records that creeps up on you. Recorded live to two-track in just
one day, the disc shows Rigby’s broad textural reach and integration
of a range of stylistic influences. This is one of the handful of records
that seem to emerge out of nowhere each year, introducing an artist who
demands to be followed closely.
Sound Records fans will know Rigby for his work on records by bassist Eivind
Opsvik and pianist Kris Davis, as well as Soul Note guitarist Scott Dubois.
But though Rigby’s style—a blend of Wayne Shorter’s cerebralism
with middle-period Coltrane’s modal explorations—may be familiar,
his strength as a composer is something altogether new.
Phrygian modality of the hypnotic 7/4 “Proximo” evokes a feeling
of Northern Africa, with Mike Holober’s Fender Rhodes and a second
line of flute and twin clarinets supporting Rigby’s spare theme with
close voicings shifting in and out of dissonance. “Turquoise Turkish,”
on the other hand, is a fiery swinger that, just shy of four minutes, seems
over before it begins. A rapid-fire head sets up powerful free bop solos
from Rigby and Holober, before evolving into a free-for-all between the
two, firmly supported by bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Mark Ferber.
a hint of bassist Dave Holland’s groove-centricity on “Southampton
[UK],” but with Ferber’s Tony Williams energy filtered through
a Joey Baron-like slapdash support, the funk is implied, with nary a backbeat
to be found. Still, Brown shares Holland’s ability to maintain an
unshakable pulse while remaining responsive. Compositionally, Rigby—like
Holland—manages to shift meters in ways that feel natural despite
their conflicted nature: “Southampton” may be in 4/4, but it
feels somehow like it should be in 6/8.
compelling opening solo on the aptly titled tone poem “Atmospheric”
proves how underappreciated he is, despite a decades-long career working
with artists including saxophonist Archie Shepp, pianist Don Pullen and
singer Sheila Jordan. Perhaps it’s as simple as his choice to be a
sideman (he has only one record as a leader), but his ability to comfortably
cross stylistic boundaries makes him a perfect choice for Rigby.
and Holober sit out on the brief “114,” where Rigby builds a
surprisingly cogent sound from saxophone, drums and Rich Johnson’s
muted trumpet. If Translucent Space is a showcase for Rigby, it’s
equally one for Ferber—who, like Rigby, has emerged seemingly out
of nowhere in the past few years, playing on an increasing number of sessions.
Rigby invokes the spirit of Coltrane (“Backandforthedness”),
Paul Motian (“Green of Greens”) and Charles Lloyd (“Mumbai”),
the latter piece featuring wood flute over an insistent bass/drums groove.
In lesser hands Rigby’s esoteric tastes might feel ambiguous, but
the strength of Translucent Space lies in its coherence, intellect and accessibility—making
it one of the year’s most remarkable debuts.