Lina Allemano Four – Sometimes Y (2017)

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In 2015 we highlighted a stylish electro-acoustic experimental jazz record from trumpeter, composer and bandleader, Lina Allemano. Kiss The Brain was the first record by her Titanium Riot quartet, and recently they put forth their second album Squish It!. But for a longer time, she’s led an all-acoustic quartet plainly called the Lina Allemano Four, and that combo also has a new set of recordings available for sale.

Sometimes Y (Lumo Records) offers a chance to examine this other side of Toronto and Berlin-based Lina Allemano with the fifth album by the Four and their first one in five years. This outfit also features Brodie West on alto saxophone, Andrew Downing on double bass and Nick Fraser on drums.

One thing that’s immediately clear about Sometimes Y is that there is no less zest here for taking chances and playing in the moment. That’s helped by recording these performances ‘live’ in the studio with the band members clustered closely together as they play. But this is also a reflection on the leader, who composes pieces that has identifiable harmonic characteristics with ample capacity for spontaneity from everybody. It’s similar to Chicago, AACM styled avant-garde as well as European free form jazz, with some musical DNA shared with Eric Dolphy.

Such as the Dolphy-esque “Sometimes Y,” kept loose enough to allow the interactions and harmonizing between Allemano and West become the focal point. “Cowlick” is dispersed but well into it, the quartet suddenly takes off running and then slows down again. Here again, Allemano and West are listening and reacting to each other almost telepathically.

The close reciprocity is the main attraction of these and each of the other tracks, as well as tempo modulation. On “Kanada,” West plays up-and-down cycle with Downing and Fraser in tow as Allemano picks her spots between and around it at a slower tempo before the two unite and then disperse again. A four-way conversation erupts that starts quietly and gradually increases in density.

“O” begins via Downing’s dusty sawing of his bass just above a whisper for nearly ninety seconds before anyone else is heard, and as the rest of the ensemble ease their way in, Allemano and West can be heard barely blowing into their horns, resembling a dry run for the full tones they would soon introduce. Another escalation in intensity is done fully together by all four, landing softly together as well.

Capturing the stage feel in the studio more often than not falls short, but that’s not the case with Sometimes Y. The concurrent improvising between Allemano and West on “Tweeter” as they also sketch out the broadly defined melody succeeds on record just as it does during the live performance captured in the video above. For Lina Allemano, the idea of playing group-centered jazz without any shackles and little premeditation transfers well across her projects.

Purchase Sometimes Y here.


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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