Friday, December 11, 2015

Vector Trio-Sin Ojos; self-released via Bandcamp, 2015

With hindsight, Disaster Amnesiac could kick myself for not checking out more music during the years that I lived near Washington, D.C. The shows that were attended by teenage Amnesiac were awesome, of course, but there is just so much great musical culture there to be had: Go Go, Blues, Jazz, Roots Rock, etc. can be found alongside the eminent Punk Rock and Hardcore that gets a lot of the attention. I do recall night time trips to Georgetown for record shopping, during which I would stand outside of this little Jazz club's window, in which the drummer would often be placed, and listen. Still, it's a drag to have never taken in so much of the music that permeates the District.
Happily, Disaster Amnesiac discovered yet another great D.C. band recently, through the great World of Abstract Dreams blog (the man's reading, that band being Vector Trio.
Sin Ojos, one of three 2015 releases at Vector Trio's Bandcamp page, starts off spaciously with Semi, a track that has Disaster Amnesiac ruminating about any and all manner of the Post-Ayler continuum in Improvised Music. The group makes these skeletal frames of sound, within which they interact freely and with precision. As I've listened, it's become clear that this group has jammed together a lot; they comment on each others' sounds, finish each others' riffs, and just generally play. Drummer Marshall Hughey frames the sound on Semi. His drum set playing doesn't so much swing as creates zones, from which bassist Gary Rouzer and trumpeter Scott Forrey launch off into their own spaces. These three players present myriad sounds during the tune's twelve minute duration, and though they all really inventive, it's Hughey's drumming that impresses the most. His brush techniques go way beyond the standard Jazz-brushed swishing: at times he coaxes what sound like strange machine sounds from his brushed tom toms and cymbals, or taps out log drum sounds out on the sides of his drums. This is not to say that Forrey and Rouzer don't play incredibly on Semi; they certainly do, but Hughey just puts on a clinic in improvised drum set creativity throughout.
Next up can be found the Jazz march of the title track, during which Forrey really shines. The rhythm section provides a solid, swinging frame, from which he riffs at times buttery and full bodied, at times spicy and more slim and high pitched. His trumpet playing on Sin Ojos travels many paths, all of them compelling to hear. Rouzer gets woody, percussive tones from his bass, and, eventually, Hughey introduces the recording's first overt Swing pattern, moving the group into the canny lateral Monk quoting of Well You Shouldn't, with its sweet horn solos and more fine, if somewhat more traditional brush work from Hughey. It's the kind of nod to tradition that all Jazz lovers could recognize as legitimate and heartfelt. Disaster Amnesiac figures that none that would hear this track would find it disingenuous. Its easy, swinging feel seems all about adding creative touches to a much cherished tradition, never aping it, but participating in its evolution.  Things go back to the more Free side on Not But Also, in which the rhythms get more cellular and pointillist for a time as the trio examines collective improvisation conversation before beginning to bounce a bit more. Forrey's solo again shows him to be a masterful player: as I've listened to Sin Ojos, I've marveled at how much sound and varied tone he gets from what so often seems like such a simple instrument (I realize that this is absolutely not the case, of course, but, hey, maybe I need to check out more trumpet and less saxophone during Jazz listening sessions). Ojos winds down with the melancholy closer The Minus Ghost, during which Rouzer pulls sweeping tones from his cello, Forrey bleats lonely and somewhat sorrowed, and Hughey provides more inventive framing with his excellent brush work.
As this title suggests, there are times when people are without eyes to see, but if you have any kind of ear for Jazz, listen for the sounds of Vector Trio

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