Jeff Cosgrove, Scott Robinson + Ken Filiano – Hunters & Scavengers (2018)

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It’s easy to think of jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove by his association with the Paul Motian tribute band Motian Sickness or leading groups that includes Matthew Shipp on piano but truth is, there’s much more to this rising star drummer than those two connections.

Hunters & Scavengers presents Cosgrove in just one of his trios, one that co-stars saxophonist Scott Robinson and bassist Ken Filiano, who are indeed stars in their own right. Thusly, this album is headlined by all three and reflects the collective personalities laid bare by them composing as they are playing.

All ten tunes except for an Ornette Coleman standard at the end are collective creations, of generally short to medium lengths, teasing out sketches that are evocative and tell a story.

“Eyes Of The Hunter” is therefore imbued with a sense of foreboding, Filiano’s string scrapes being a big part of that. The band makes nervous energy with “Don’t Look (Just Run),” and Cosgrove’s intelligent drumming is perfectly suited for this: like his mentor Motian, he knows how to get the point across with the right timbre, not brute force. Filiano — still on bowed bass — and Robinson similarly demonstrate controlled tension.

Robinson devises a pattern of extended notes on “Patterned Behavior” that finds a balance between melody and improvisation, and Cosgrove’s pulses prove he’s listening very closely to it. For “High, Low,” some of Robinson’s bop background seeps in, probably inspired the rambunctious swing from the rhythm section. But the tenor saxophonist is running free in the higher register. Listening closely reveals that the other two are playing without much constraint, to a large degree, but still very much together.

“Instinct” as the title implies, goes all-in on instinctual playing, a forty-second blast of freedom. Filiano coaxes strange scrapes from his double bass on “Field Test,” a song barely audible but for Cosgrove’s occasional taps on the toms.

“Rays Of Dawn” sees the return of Robinson’s soul-soaked sax, making every drawn-out note count and Filiano making his bowing mimic that dark, doleful sound. “Simple Justification” almost seems a continuation of the morose mood of “Rays,” except that Filiano goes out front to make a finger-plucked statement or two, presaging a pickup in tempo and the settling into a groove.

Filiano creates looping and sampling effects with his bass to make the spooky atmospherics of “Song of the Cuddle Fish,” but Robinson’s unaltered horn is able to conjure up that same feeling, too.

After all that, “Lonely Woman” ends up having the most sharply defined melody out of this batch of freewheeling songs, but Cosgrove isn’t about to concede to any prescribed way of drumming to this song. He sets out on his own path which provides a burning fervor from below that always threaten to overtake the blues mood coming from Robinson and Filiano, Eventually, Robinson gives in to the passion

Put plainly, Hunters & Scavengers is about three very good musicians venturing out into the unknown, using telepathy and deft tactics. They arrive at their destination together, but the journey is where all that goodness is found.


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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