Daniel Blacksberg : Trombone | Jon Barrios : Bass | Mike Szekely : Drums
Tracks : Side A: * 1. Fanfare For A Scrambled Race 4’05” * 2. Just Shy Of Hope 4’04” * 3. The Elastic Character 3’27” * 4. At Least Understanding 5’06” * 5. From the Chamber 2’20” Side B: * 6. Combing The Postapocalypse 6’11” * 7. Deforestation 4’57” * 8. The Closer 3’14” * 9. Shot To The End 8’27”
All compositions by Daniel Blacksberg (Illuminent Music ASCAP). * recorded June 8th (tracks 2 and 8) and June 21st (tracks 1, 3-9), 2008 at Buckeye Recording. * recorded, mixed and mastered by Peter Richan. * design by Oskaras Anosovas. * executive producer – Danas Mikailionis. * co-producer – Valerij Anosov. Limited Edition of 300 records.
The trombone is a tough instrument
to put in a leading role, and the small ensembles that feature a trombone are hence limited, but thanks to the relentless creativity of modern music, anything is possible, in any combination, with any kind of intent. Here is a list of interesting new albums in random order.
This adventurous new Lithuanian label presents us with what I think is the debut album of trombonist Daniel Blacksberg as a leader, accompanied by Jon Barrios on bass and Mike Szekely on drums. His approach is cautious, free and precise, in the sense that he does go beyond the beaten path, offering new possibilities for the instrument but without going into the wilder areas that George Lewis is known for. The end result is highly listenable avant jazz, with slow and bluesy inflections, using the instrument’s inherent capabilities for sadness. Promising! — Stef.
Daniel received his Bachelor of Music
in jazz performance from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Bob Brookmeyer, Norman Bolter, Joe Morris, and Joe Maneri. Upon returning to Philadelphia, he became active in the city’s rapidly growing creative jazz and improvised music scene. He has performed Daniel has performed with such notable musicians as Joe Morris, Joe Maneri, Daniel Levin, Jack Wright, Bobby Zankel, Mike Pride, Tim Daisy, Nate Mcbride, Charles Cohen, Taylor Ho Bynum, Steve Lantner, Gene Coleman, Katt Hernandez, Jessica Lurie, Brandon Seabrook, Peter Evans and Anthony Braxton.
While at NEC, Dan had the opportunity to work with Irene Aebi on the U.S. Premiere of her late husband Steve Lacy’s song cycle Futurities (2004), with Gunther Schuller in the world premiere of Encounters (2003) and to record with pianist Danilo Perez on his recent release the Panama Suite (2006, released 2007).
Daniel is also deeply involved in klezmer music and has played with many of the field’s top artists such as Frank London, Michael Alpert, Alan Bern, Hankus Netsky, Adrienne Cooper, Alicia Svigals, Michael Winograd, Alex Kontorovitch, Daniel Kahn, Aaron Alexander and the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra. In 2008, Daniel joined the Other Europeans Project, founded by Alan Bern to investigate the relationship of Jewish and Roma musicians in Bessarabia. He has appeared at the Krakow Jewish Music Festival, at the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto and Klezmer Festival Fürth as well as many concerts all across the US and Europe. Daniel has taught at both Klezkamp and Klezkanada and at Yiddish Summer Weimar.
LP version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
It’s somewhat surprising that there aren’t too many active trombone/bass/drums power trios around, with the model being strongly set in the late 1970s New York scene by such bands as BassDrumBone (trombonist Ray Anderson, drummer Gerry Hemingway, bassist Mark Helias) and the comparable, albeit freer group Brahma, with drummer Barry Altschul. The lack of current ‘bone-heavy units is notable, especially given the resurgent appreciation for such architects on the instrument as Roswell Rudd, Grachan Moncur III, Albert Mangelsdorff and Paul Rutherford. With the vinyl-only release of Bit Heads, we can add Philadelphia-based trombonist Daniel Blacksberg to the short list of players chancing a trio stretch. Blacksberg is a player who has clearly done a lot of listening to his forebears—Mangelsdorff, Moncur, and George Lewis—as well as other brass instrumentalists who explore the wide point of extended technique. But what’s notable is that, as an improviser, Blacksberg is far from showy, eschewing the rampant brashness of BassDrumBone and Brahma for a cooler, introspective detail and an easy egalitarianism with his trio mates (bassist John Barrios and drummer Mike Szekely).
“Fanfare for a Scrambled Race” opens the set with a crumpled dexterity, the foreshortened nature of Blacksberg’s phrases recalling some of Moncur’s late ’60s free work (as on the piece “Exploration,” from the 1969 BYG LP New Africa), as well as an incisive narrowness gleaned from a lineage of post-Don Cherry free trumpeters. The ballad “Just Shy of Hope” is wistful leaderless dusk, low-angled bass thrum and lackadaisical brush accents shading around the trombonist’s drifting sighs and moans. A guttural, vocal snatch of bluesiness arises from the rhythm section’s distracted patter and burble, drawn out into cutting lines that give the nod to a much older brass tradition. Metallic dabs from Szekely and Barrios’ rubbery pizzicato are a perfect complement to the leader’s waxy plunger exposition on “The Elastic Character,” gutsy trio-logue in continual micro-bursts that culminate in buzzing multiphonics. All of the pieces here are fairly short, with only two much over the five minute mark, and there’s not an extraordinary development of improvisational storytelling—indeed, the improvisations are more like vignettes of action, filled with presence and conversation rather than an overarching scheme.
That said, the two longer pieces do satisfy and the threesome gets into some heavy playing—”Combing the Post-Apocalypse” features some nasty whining arco bass, mirrored by throaty brass hum and extended linear blat, which slowly develops into an icily quixotic slink, supported by Szekely’s knitted airy accents. The closing “Shot to the End” rides on surges of rattling energy, percussive shades of Sunny Murray
and Sven-Ake Johansson propelling short swaggers and muted gnawing as the trio alternates between staccato detour and jumbled walk. Bit Heads is an impressive debut from a trio that espouses a dry and knotty playing field.