Kate Gentile, “Alchemy Melt (With Tilt)” from Mannequins (2017): Something Else! exclusive stream

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feature photo: TJ Huff

Continuing the unpredictable, zig-zag progressive jazz tradition championed by the likes of Tim Berne, Jim Black and Henry Threadgill, Buffalo native Kate Gentile takes the relationship between rhythm and harmony an order of magnitude closer. Mannequins is her debut album, out on June 16, 2017 (Skirl Records), an opening statement that’s really astounding in how far out into the frontier she’s positioned herself right at the start.

It doesn’t hurt that as a drummer, Gentile is intimately involved with the rhythm part of the equation. But, she’s composed works that demand as much of members of her quartet as herself, a combo that includes reedman Jeremy Viner (Battle Trance, Bing and Ruth), bassist Adam Hopkins (Ideal Bread) and Berne’s own pianist, Matt Mitchell, and they’re more than up for the task.

Everywhere on this album, Gentile is leading her band down dangerous, dark alleys and somehow they emerge from them having slayed the harmonic riddles she devises for them and herself. In the exclusive stream above, “Alchemy Melt (With Tilt)” opens up like the soundtrack to a frantic chase scene. Mitchell uses his left hand to set the melody hurtling down staggered paths as Gentile keeps up with him every step of the way. After slowing down to catch their collective breath, Mitchell re-emerges with another impossibly dense motif and Gentile is putting muscle behind it, while Viner briefly smooths out the sharp edges with a little clarinet. After the second breakdown, Viner becomes the aggressor, spitting out fury from his tenor sax. Gentile brings the performance to its conclusion on her own on a most unusual, funky aside on drums.

It’s an album’s worth of ideas from a single song and there are a dozen other songs on Mannequins. Kate Gentile did not begin her recording career as a leader meekly. That’s bound to make whatever comes afterwards even more compelling to behold.


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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