Daniel Blacksberg Trio – Perilous Architecture (2014)

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Free/avant-garde jazz trombonists do exist — Grachan Moncur III, Roswell Rudd and Ray Anderson come to mind — but there aren’t many around, which is a shame. An instrument as expressive as the sweet and sassy trombone seems perfectly equipped to handle the instinctual and capricious ways of jazz’s outer regions. Philadelphia’s Dan Blacksberg keeps that torch lit, and turns away no opportunity to bring the trombone into new, foreign areas, whether it’s old Hasidic strains or hardcore punk (sometimes all at once), and we’ve visited a couple of some of the projects he’s been involved with, such as the Psychotic Quartet, Superlith and Haitian Rail.

But when Blacksberg is in the mood for no-nonsense, small ensemble free jazz, he turns to his own Daniel Blacksberg Trio with Matt Engle on bass and Mike Szekely on drums. This combo has just released their second album, following Bit Heads from 2010. Perilous Architecture, also distributed by the Lithuania-based NoBusiness Records, shows Blacksberg in probably his purest form, about to move freely within very loosely defined compositions with a sympathetic rhythm section that serves as a natural extension of his art.

“Arc of Circling Bodies” revolves around two dark notes, a touch point that Blacksberg returns to following short-to-medium length jaunts to the outside. From this opening salvo, you familiarize yourself with a trio that forges a dispersed sound; the three musicians connect to each other but from a distance. “Filament and Void” is even more interesting, as Blacksberg leads his group into dark alleys and quickly pulls out of each one to go find another. “Roar Of Mankind” is distinguished with its rollercoaster pace, and Blacksberg’s brash brass takes us on thrill ride over the barely-contained din of Engle and Szekely. “Scapegrace” travels over bumpy terrain, too, but everyone sticks together closely through it.

Engle occasionally pulls out the bow, and when he does so for the beginning of “Blind Tracery.” Blacksberg responds by drawing out his notes to resemble the scraping of a bow over strings and soon, he’s sparring with Engle in a dual improv match. Dig how Blacksberg attacks his solo in a contentious manner on “Almost Negotiable” while Engle creates his own figures along a parallel path as Szekely’s drums crackle and instigate.

Even when Dan Blacksberg is not partaking in unconventional combos playing unconventional styles, his adventurous personality guarantees that the music will be refreshingly out of the ordinary nonetheless. Such is the case for Perilous Architecture.

*** Purchase Daniel Blacksburg Trio’s Perilous Architecture ***

Visit Dan Blackberg’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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