Friday, February 01, 2019

CD Review: 10³²K -The Law of Vibration

The Law of Vibration

These days it's not surprising to see a saxophone player backed by just a bassist and drummer. Sometimes a trumpeter even joins forces with just the core rhythm section. Seeing a trombonist working in this format remains something of a rarity. Ray Anderson did it with BassDrumBone in the  '80s and '90s, and perhaps there are a few out there flying under the radar. But 10³²K should be on everyone's radar at this point. Not only do they utilize the 'bone/bull fiddle/skins format, they pay homage to their avant-peers/forefathers by interpreting past works that might have originally felt more like seemed more like personal sketches. In their hands the music becomes their own personal expression.

10³²K, named for the Planck temperature at which matter starts to break down, features Ku-umba Frank Lacy (trombone, flumpet), Kevin Ray (bass) and Andrew Drury (drums). Following in the direction they began on 2014's That Which is Planted, the group interprets two pieces originally done by the band Air and one by John Coltrane. But this time, Lacy also contributes two originals and trombonist Roswell Rudd drops by to join the band in his lively "Yankee No-How" in a recording made a few years before his passing.

Even without the addition of Rudd, these guys fill up the room with their sound. Lacy, who added some gravelly vocals to an album by the Mingus Big Band in 2015, blows with a clarion tone whether the music calls for the feeling of a free ballad, like his own "All The While...Forgiveness," or something more abstract, such as Fred Hopkins' "RB" which features percussion tolls in between passages by Lacy's "flumpet."

Drury and Ray sound equally as pliable, able to go from out of tempo introductions to grooves, creating something solid every time. The whole group seems to be having a joyous time with Rudd on "Yankee No-How," making the guest trombonist's death feel like an even greater loss. In Coltrane's "Living Space" bass and drums create a rolling boil beneath Lacy, whose trombone implies the idea of space through an echo, double-tracked effect. Even when they're playing the works of other musicians, they're using those templates as a way to present their own ideas. In fact, other than "Living Space," it might only be clear to the most die-hard avant-jazz listener which of these tracks are originals. They all sound like their originals.

Sometimes in writing about albums, I feel like I've come across something that should draw some wide-ranging attention. That did happen with Jaimie Branch's debut album two years ago. Several people I knowalso dug into Wendy Eisenberg's music after reading about it here. But those are really the exceptions. Not that I'm trying to be a tastemaker here, but when my socks get knocked off by an album, I just kind of assume that, being a small time writer, I shouldn't be the only whose digging it. The Law of Vibration gives me this same kind of feeling. The guys in the band aren't exactly new kids to the scene either. (For more about Andrew Drury's work as a leader, click here.)

Albums like this can convert people who might be reticent about free music, hearing in it a connection to more grounded work, while getting off on the energy of the group. People who already appreciate this music will likewise be enthralled by it. And perhaps they'll have a better understanding of their Air albums when they go back them after hearing "RB" (and "BK," which they played on That Which is Planted).

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