Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CD REVIEW/ Jason Ajemian- The Art of Dying

Imagine a small group of friends getting together. All are musicians. They meet in someones front room, maybe the basement or perhaps in the garage. Its just an impersonal jam session. They share a few sodas, down some sandwiches, maybe even smoke a cigarette or two. Everyone is relaxed with no where to go but into the heavens of the music.
That's the unassuming calm that permeates this new recording by bassist Jason Ajemian. 'The Art of Dying (Delmark)' features Ajemian's group 'Smokeless Heat', a trio of Tim Haldeman, tenor sax and drummer Noritaka Tanaka (how cool is that name, especially for a drummer?!). And it is augmented by some more good buddies in Jaime Branch, trumpet; guitarist Matt Schneider and vibist Jason Adasiewicz (who incidentally is making quite a name for himself as well).
The disc begins with the somber 'With or Without the Universalator', where Branch's poignant but sour puss tone inflects a solid depth of feeling. The hippest thing about her playing is that she's not afraid of making mistakes or fracturing a note here and there. And that doesn't mean she plays 'wrong' notes. For it has been said by many that there are no "wrong" notes. She's the quite opposite of Haldeman who can be a whirlwind. He's no slouch and serves up a Dewey Redmanish workmanship through out. His waves of melodic candor make one wipe his brow-whew!
As a composer Ajemian pokes little vignettes of the title for us to nibble on. He does it thus....The...is 0:13; Art...is 0:17; Of is...0:13 and Dying is..0:22. He rounds out the entire title in one tune entitled '2,4,7,9' all titles that are numbered as 'The Art of Dying'. Clever eh? The title piece has an Ornette Coleman feel. His 'Peace' in particular. And the CD ends out with a 'live' session piece recorded on WMSE in Milwaukee, Wisc. It is here that the trio gets into the brass tacks of what they really can do once in full throttle. They carefully listen to one another. God! They've recalled the days of Henry Threadgill's AIR! This is thoughtful engaging music and Ajemian is a well rounded young master in the making.

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