Daniel Rosenboom – Book Of Omens (2013)

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Daniel Rosenboom’s “Book of Omens” – Official Trailer from Alex Chaloff on Vimeo.

Daniel Rosenboom’s Book Of Omens could have been the name of a mystic novel, or a play, consisting of several of discreet but related acts. Instead, it’s a musical narrative, but one that still leaves an impression of artwork of linked by chapters, or ideas. The former symphony orchestra trumpeter who once aspired to build his entire career around classical music took away from that music form the majesty of an episodic suite, the sweep of a theme, breaking up one or two grand ideas into intensified, bite-sized ones. Rendered not by a symphony orchestra, but an electric jazz quintet immersed with Jake Vossler’s overdriven guitar. “Bartok meets Meshuggah,” explains Rosenboom.

Thus, Omens is jazz-rock, exploiting the musicianship of the former and the intensity of the latter, wrapped in a purposeful concept. This is a theme about of a new, harmonic based astrology with twelve distinct chords, each chord represented by a piece and bracketed by an intro and an epilogue.

With Rosenboom’s clear trumpet piercing through the rock-inflected static of the intro “Prologue: The 12 Signs” and its the metal thunder companion of “Playing With Fire,” the scenario actually plays out like Wadada Leo Smith’s Organic, but unlike Smith’s extended jams these individual pieces rarely run past five minutes and never reach seven, always leaving the listener to wanting a little more.

The band follows that thrash with the uneasy serenity of “Moth,” led by Vinny Golia’s brooding bass clarinet, and electric bassist Tim Lefebvre’s electronic effects swirling about in the background. “Panther,” like the big cat, prowls, paced by Matt Mayhall’s tribal beat, and Rosenboom leads this time, with sharp diction well in tune with the mood of the song. When Golia later follows on sax, he brings the skronk. “Blood Moon” is one of many instances where Rosenboom combines with Golia to define thematic lines with long-held notes, allowing the rest of the band to play like hell.

Elsewhere, “The Swarm” really does sound like a pack of angry hornets, building up to abrupt ending. Whacky noises emit from Vossler’s guitar alongside Golia’s ominous flute during the impending doom of “Wolf In The Mist,” and Mayhall settles into a funky beat amidst a screeching, skittering guitar, a funky little beat and atonal electro-noises. Rosenboom’s horn soars alone to begin “The Last Regent,” then over the abrupt noise-rock desolation of Vossler and the rhythm section, fading into the desolate serenity of barely-there electronic noises.

“The Celestial Arrow” borrows ideas from Miles Davis’ cutting edge avant-funk number “Black Satin” using a funky bass figure and updating it with a frantic drum ‘n’ bass rhythm. The song goes faster and faster, as Golia and Rosenboom chase each other in an improvising duel. Vossler and Lefebvre assume the job of holding down the harmony for “Supernova,” as the other three solo harder and tougher together as the song progresses.

For someone whose done a lot of work for Hollywood projects as a sideman on movie and TV soundtracks, the whole idea of making an album — even one with no lyrics — around a fictional topic or story, is no stretch for Daniel Rosenboom, and that shows on the coherent but loose Book Of Omens. From Rosenboom’s fertile mind and creative musicians came this fertile and creative product.

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Book Of Omens drops on July 9, courtesy of Nine Winds Records. Visit Daniel Rosenboom’s website for more info.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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