Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Friendly Skies

Rob Brown Trio, Unknown Skies
Rob Brown - alto sax
Craig Taborn - piano
Nasheet Waits - drums   

A lineup of alto, piano and drums may conjure up memories of The Cecil Taylor Unit, but on Rob Brown's Unknown Skies the ghost of Ornette makes its presence felt. Brown isn't overly slavish to Coleman's influence however, and has produced his strongest recording of any I've heard.
A key to the success of Skies is Craig Taborn. His approach is so all-encompassing that you don't miss a bass. It's interesting to contrast the dense, knotty style on display here to the minimalist approach on his recent solo record Avenging Angel – quite a range. In fact, the closest Unknown Skies comes to the aforementioned Unit is in some sections featuring only Taborn and Waits.
Rob Brown's own playing ranges from meditative to frenetic, and although I still detect a tendency from earlier releases to wander a little in his improvisations, and although I found myself wondering a couple of times, WWGCD? (What would Gerald Cleaver do?), I wanted to play it again immediately after it was over, which is a good sign.