Daniel Rosenboom – Astral Transference and Seven Dreams (2015)

Restless trumpeter, composer, poet, bandleader and record label entrepreneur Daniel Rosenboom tackles every one of his roles with a spirited intellect, which makes each new release a new adventure of multiple dimensions. Rosenboom’s latest adventure is Astral Transference and Seven Dreams (out February 3, 2015 on Rosenboom’s Orenda Records), more exploits into the more creative margins of jazz, and done with sharply defined purpose.

Or, I should say, “purposes,” in the plural sense.

As the title implies, this is, essentially, two albums wrapped into one release. Astral Transference is a single, half-hour performance that’s hard to categorize but veers in and out of free jazz, minimalism, prog rock and chamber jazz. Seven Dreams is a musical suite of seven movements, honoring Rosenboom’s primary trumpet teacher. You might have heard of him, he goes by the name Wadada Leo Smith.

The Seven Dreams suite involves a quintet comprising of Rosenboom with Artyom Manukyan on cello, Joshua White on piano, Richard Giddens on bass and Gene Coye on drums. Joining the five piece band for the Astral Transference octet are Gavin Templeton on alto sax, Jon Armstrong on tenor sax and Alexander Noice on electric guitar.

The journey of “Astral Transference” begins meekly enough with Rosenboom’s trumpet noodling over a short figure that ends with an “echo,” and each instance of the echo reels in more and more of the band, a rather unique way of easing in a full, eight-piece ensemble. Over the course of the song, Coye mostly follows the ever-evolving cadence of the song instead of keeping time, lending to the performance’s collective breathing in and breathing out. Solos are usually made simultaneously but flow in the same direction instead of creating total chaos. Key changes are made without much fanfare and everyone adjusts to them in unity. The top of the arc comes in at around the twenty-seven minute mark after a period of stormy buildup — an impassioned wailing by Armstrong — and the release is shortly followed by a soft landing.

The Seven Dreams is an all-acoustic, tumultuous and panoramic series of sonic exploits that pay fealty to Smith by emulating his cinematic brooding, coiling up and unwinding. Even when those stages occur out of order, as exemplified in the trumpet blast that ushers in the first movement, “Burst Into The Infinite,” living up to its vividly abstract title. Following that is the contrasting morbidity of “An Ancient Tree,” a barren mood set by White’s dark chords that later transforms into a fractured, nervous energy. A ride cymbal and muted trumpet makes “Colors You May Never See” the first overtly jazz moment of the entire record, with taut, walking bass from Giddens completing a temporary jazz trio. When Rosenboom takes off the mute, things move into out-jazz territory, underlined by Manukyan’s cello scrapes and plucks.

Manukyan moves into the forefront at the beginning of “The Tears of Venus” with a lovely pizzicato feature worthy of Erik Friedlander, then bows along with Rosenboom’s soothing notes. The tenderness doesn’t last, though, and the furious trumpet returns for “Throwing Fire At The Sky.” Meanwhile, Coye and White push back against him with muscular counterpoints. The two engage in a tête-à-tête with Coye on brushes as Rosenboom nudges his way into the conversation back on mute (“Chatting With the Moon”). And lastly, the trumpeter dances over Coye’s jungle grooves during “Dancing On The Rings of Saturn” with angular responses from White. At some point, the song turns festively melodic as Rosenboom forms an Afro-Cuban riff that’s handed off to Giddens and the rest of band latches onto.

As the last note of Seven Dreams dissipates, applause can be heard. I’m then reminded that this entire record was performed in one night live at the Blue Whale club in LA. Yet another challenge that Rosenboom had constructed for an already ambitious project, and yet another challenge met.

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