by S. Victor Aaron
Jason Stein is a bass clarinetist who is making waves on Chicago’s dynamic improvised music scene. A member of Ken Vandermark’s Bridge 61 band as well as minimalist rock collaborations with David Daniels, Stein’s own main project is a bass/drums trio he calls Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore. For this band that includes Jason Roebke on bass and Mike Pride on drums, Stein writes songs modeled after Steve Lacy’s tradition-based but freely structured approach. This makes for songs that allow for a lot of extemporaneous expression, a kind of expression often follows the “New Thing” examples of Archie Shepp, late Coltrane, and or course, the great bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy. But Stein doesn’t quite replicate Dolphy or any other bass clarinetist: he ventures up in the upper registers more, wavering his notes a little more, sometimes sounding more like Coleman Hawkins than Bennie Maupin. “Crayons For Sammy” and “Little Bird” exemplify this approach well. All the same, he can break from his own tendencies as the situation call for it: the clipped notes and lower register excursions on “Arch And Shipp” make that clear. Three Kinds Of Happiness makes all kinds of sweet noise.
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