J  O  U  R  N  A  L

Volume 31, Number 1

Sept/Oct 2006

Review by: Frank Bongiorno

Jason Rigby, saxophones, bass clarinet, and wood flute
Fresh Sound New Talent (FSNT 254)
Jason Rigby is an active musician on the New York music scene today, performing in a variety of musical groups such as the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Aretha Franklin, subbing on Broadway, as well as a sideman with numerous artists, such as David Liebman. Prior to coming to New York City, Rigby worked in Ohio, and in particular Cleveland, with various artists. He received his Bachelor's degree from Youngstown State University and his Master's at the Manhattan School of Music. He currently performs regularly in New York, and abroad, with guitarist Scott Dubois, and bassist Cameron Brown.
    The musicians on this CD include Jason Rigby (tenor, soprano, alto, bass clarinet, and wood flute); Mike Holober, piano and Fender Rhodes piano; Cameron Brown, bass; Mark Ferber, drums; Soo Kyung Park, flute; Sam Sadigursky, clarinet; Jason Gillenwater, clarinet; Lauren Riley, cello.
    Rigby's solo CD debut features his fine work on woodwinds, as well as his craft and skill as a composer. Although, he indicates that most of the tunes were only sketches, there is somewhat of a gray area where and when the melody ends and the improvisation begins in each tune. The opening cut, Proximo, is a good example of this concept, as the composition and improvisation seem to evolve rather than being distinctly delineated in the form. A vamp like background in seven, along with a tastefully performed group interplay, and some nicely used dissonance with the woodwinds in the background, allow the CD to peak the listener's interest of what's to come.
    Turquoise Turkish begins with a frantic line that melts into solos by Rigby and Holober. Rigby tabs the style of this tune as free bop because of the free nature of the solos, but while there is a strong, free component, the solos still remain attached, albeit minimally, to the crux and foundation of the tune with regard to tempo, rhythm, and to a certain extent, harmony. Regardless, the interaction between ensemble members is excellent and the listener remains attentive as the soloists and supporting musicians offer a unified, collective approach in the composition's performance.
    The use of the Fender Rhodes, as well as a harmonic foundation somewhat more accessible than the previous compositions, gives Southampton (UK) a different flavor for the listener's palette. Rigby also mixes it up a bit on this tune by using a rhythmic ostinato as the basis of the composition, and he plays soprano saxophone as well as the bass clarinet. The relentless drive by the rhythm section and energy of the solos provide ample momentum fr the tune's success and forward motion.
    Atmospheric moves away from the driving energy we heard in the earlier cuts and, as the title suggests, is a composition with a relaxed, free approach that evokes more of a dream-like mood with subdued musical colors. Bassist Brown and Rigby on tenor are featured as they weave through the composition, sometimes passing close to one another, but never colliding.
    114 is one of the more esoteric pieces on the CD as it is based upon a set of notes and rhythmic patterns manipulated by a reduced ensemble of trumpet, tenor, and drums. Rigby draws upon his classical training for this composition, but also draws upon the work done by musicians of the Free Jazz movement of the 60's, and in particular Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures recording. Once again, the musician's ability to create interest with the material at hand during interplay among musicians is the key to the success of this CD, and especially this cut.
    Backandforthedness begins with some interplay among the musicians and then locks into a straight-ahead modal romp with Rigby rendering a fine solo that slowly but surely unfolds in rhythmic and harmonic complexity. The other members of the quartet also contribute tasteful solos on this tune before it winds down with the opening repeated.
    The next tune was inspired by Rigby's travels in Germany and in particular the beautiful German countryside. Rigby plays Green of Greens on soprano while the ensemble's interplay and interaction evokes serenity, calmness and beauty. Although the tempo is relatively slow, the musicians seem to react to one another with emotional momentum rather than a set pulse or tempo.
    Rigby has fun with a short groove piece, Mumbai, on an Indian bamboo flute before ending the CD with a tune named after his brother, Christopher. In a three-feel, Christopher, floats along nicely, due in part, to the complementary backdrop provided by all the musicians, including cellist Lauren Riley.
    There is no question that a CD of this nature, that is freedom among the musicians within a prescribed structure, cannot be successful without each musician understanding their role within the ensemble, and then contributing accordingly. Translucent Space successfully achieves this and much more, while delivering music that is interestinglyyy fresh and thought provoking.