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Adam Lane Quartet – Live In Zebulon 2005 (2CD)

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A Darker Shade Of Blue

Recorded live in Zebulon on April 10th, 2005, New York, Brooklyn
Great original Design by – fftsw 09 (DCWTr-40DJFrank09)
Adam Lane Quartet w/ John Tchicai, Paul Smokerand Gerry Hemingway

Early April was busy for reedist John Tchicai: firstplaying duo with bassist Adam Lane at the Hudson View Gardens “Sundays at5″ Lounge series (April 6th), then with guitarist Garrison Fewell atCornelia Street Café for AAJ-NY‘s “1s & 2s concert series(April 7th). (Tchicai and Lane also played quartet with Paul Smoker and GerryHemingway at Zebulon on April 10th.) At HVG, home of our own LaurenceDonohue-Greene, who curates the jazz there, Tchicai and Lane deepened thechemistry they first documented on DOS (CIMP).
 ~ David Adler


Alyn Shipton, in his recent book A New History of Jazz, puts forth JohnColtrane’s Ascension as the first major exposure for many mid-’60′s “newerNew Thing” horn players. All but one of the six frontline musicians underColtrane would go on to have successful careers as leaders, established beforethe recording of Ascension but firmly cemented thereafter.
Thirty-six years after this monumental recording, where can these six befound today? Freddie Hubbard, suffering from a debilitating lip condition,plays infrequently and, sadly, unconvincingly. Marion Brown has been ill for along time and no longer performs. Archie Shepp, fancying himself a pianist and singer,is a shell of his former self. Pharoah Sanders’ performances are haphazard.Dewey Johnson has nor been heard from since the mid-’60′s.
Has John Tchicai, the one non-American of the group, suffered a similardownturn in either circumstance or chops? His first appearance to New York inthree years shows no trace that he has lost anything, in technique or vision,from the avant-garde heyday of the mid- to late-’60′s.
Mr. Tchicai (dressed more for the links than for a performance) was featuredin a quartet with fellow individualists Barry Altschul (supposedly their firstencounter since the early ’80′s) or Gerry Hemingway, and Paul Smoker. The group was Adam Lane’s, arelatively young upright player, whose similarity to John Pattitucci in looks,style and mannerisms is uncanny. He can be counted to be very fortunate to havethe opportunity, not just to play with these three veterans but also to placehis compositions in their very capable hands.
The evening’s performance was made up exclusively of Lane’s works. He, as acomposer, evokes the days when jazz was exploring new tonalities and textureswhile not wholly abandoning melody and structure. All his pieces have a plaintiveair, heavy on the use of whole notes while utilizing irregular intervals. Ifyou do not like his style, he can be faulted for writing material that allsounds similar. Perhaps in the hands of the lesser musicians, the compositionswould not be effective but this was certainly not the case here.
Each set began with the piece “Free”. After the wistful head,Tchicai played an extended solo that was remarkable for its unpredictability.His lines are sharp and angular, never resolving comfortably. His tone is sorich and firm, it seems to be too big for him or his instrument. Propelledforward by Hemingway’s frenetic drum work, Tchicai seemed to be struggling withmusic that was coming out almost too fast-an engaging instance of a musicianseemingly controlled by the music rather than controlling it. Smoker’s solofollowed, calling to mind Kenny Wheeler’s sound but with much more aggression.Suffice to say, Lane has his hands full the entire night trying to keep up withthese three.
“New Piece in G” came second in both sets, anchored firmly by apedal point from Lane in – you guessed it – G! Breaking away from discretesolos, Tchicai and Smoker played feverishly over each other, the trumpetblasting quick staccato notes, while the saxophone used contrapuntal longtones. As the solo section progressed, Tchicai began to speed up to create amaelstrom of notes with Smoker. Very few drummers could keep time and stillplay free without the music falling flat. Luckily, Hemingway has many years ofexperience in doing just that.
The highlight of the second set was a duet between Lane and Tchicai on bassclarinet. Lane’s sorrowful writing style was well suited to the textural mix ofthese two instruments. The bass lines were quite busy while Tchicai used thebass clarinet to its full wailing potential. The music seemed appropriate for adark forest early in the foggy morning. This was a ballad in terms of emotionalcontent rather than leisurely pace. The set closed with “7/4″ (alltitles presumably made up on the spot). This piece gave Tchicai and Smokeranother opportunity to solo in tandem. Smoker used his plunger mute to greateffect while Tchicai wailed until he looked as if he was going to burst. Gerry Hemingway seems to only have two ways of playing: intense and more intense. Henever let up for the almost two hour performance. Lane’s strength is hisexquisite ability to create palpable tension with the rest of the instruments.Coupled with the unpredictability of his band mates, the music never lapsedinto banality.
It is invigorating to hear someone still firmly in control of their instrument, years past their supposed prime. Tchicai, probably one of the least known of the Ascension participants, is the only one in whom the spirit of that album and that period is still vibrant.
By Andrey Henkin

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