Monday, November 26, 2012

Joe Fiedler's Big Sackbut

Trombonist Joe Fiedler's newest recording, Big Sackbut (Yellow Sound Label) features Fiedler, Josh Roseman & Ryan Keberle - trombones, and Marcus Rojas - tuba, was really born in the late 1980s when Fiedler first saw The World Saxophone Quartet (WSQ) live. He explains this revelation: "The drive and energy that they put forth, all without a traditional rhythm section was quite compelling.  In addition, the tunes had a wonderful balance of 'loose-tightness' or 'tight-looseness' that totally sucked me right in.  And this is to say nothing of the four powerhouse solo voices.  I immediately thought of how I might incorporate my image of all of those elements into a trombone driven project of my own.”

The ideas for this had rattled in Fiedler’s mind for about twenty years until on a gig with Ryan Keberle two years ago he mentioned the idea to Keberle and the idea was finally brought to fruition. The intent in this album is to eschew a rhythm section and have a similar self-contained horn group such the WSQ. Included are seven original Fiedler compositions along with interpretations of compositions by Sun Ra; Willie Colon; and Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet).

It is fascinating hearing the interplay among the musicians from the opening Mixed Bag, to the closing Urban Groovy. Fielder's Don Pullen is a lovely piece with Keberle playing exquisitely. Fiedler plays particularly expressively and forcefully on his 11, which is followed by Willie Colon’s Calle Luna, Calle Sol, although without a rhythm section they can at best only imply the latin flavor. I am not sure if there are many jazz interpretations of Captain Beefheart. Roseman takes the lead on the Captain’s Blabber and Smoke, a mostly pensive interpretation on which one of the trombones briefly employs a mute adding to the range of sounds heard. The leader does effectively make use of one on his solo on Ging Gong, that also spotlights Rojas’ tuba.

The lack of a rhythm section and the restricting the instrumentation to trombones and tuba does have the effect of limiting the musical palette that can be employed (compared to the WSQ with baritone, alto, tenor and soprano saxophones). It might be best to listen to several selections at one sitting rather than the entire album. Still, there is much to reward listeners of Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut with captivating performances. 

I received a review copy from a publicist. Well not with this group, here is Joe Fiedler as part of a group performing Captain Beefheart. 

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