Jay Rosen Quartet | CIMP Records
Canticles for the New Millennium
By Robert Iannapollo

Drummer Jay Rosen has been the linchpin of many a session in CIMP's Spirit Room so it seemed inevitable that he would eventually helm his own session. For the date, he assembled three leaders (Smoker, Golia and Whitecage) in whose groups he has played and let them work for him.

Rosen can be a driving drummer with a massive technique (check out his work on the opener, "Intro Please") but he's also a player of great subtlety. He knows when and when not to play. So it should be no surprise that he first sounds heard on this disc are the subsonic rumblings of Vinny Golia's bass clarinet and Paul Smoker's guttural trumpet. The track picks up momentum as Rosen's drums enter and his pushing and prodding drives the horns to an extended ten-minute foray. A brief drum solo with cricket intrusion (see below) follows. Then Whitecage makes his presence felt on "Ah Stentato!" Rosen sets up a loose-limbed funk groove and Whitecage responds with slinky, squiggly alto lines while Smoker and Golia (on soprano sax) riff behind him. This is familiar territory for Whitecage. His alto has always had a soulful tinge no matter how oblique the music. If anything, this track is vaguely reminiscent of "Nital Rock", a tune he used to play in his late '60s co-op group with Bobby Naughton, Nature's Consort. One might expect that the lack of a bass on this date would be felt (especially on this track) but that space is adequately filled by Rosen's rounded bass drum sound and low- tuned toms. After a swirling intense group improvisation the piece winds down to a satisfying conclusion.

"Pia Misses Moe" begins with a muted, a cappela interlude from Smoker that also includes a dialogue (unintentional) with a cricket. Apparently a cricket had crept into the Spirit Room and decided to make it's presence felt. The participants felt this bit of serendipity sounded just right (it's best appreciated with headphones) and decided to keep the take. In a way, the piece falls into a category with environmental recordings like Joe McPhee and David Prentice's 'Inside Out' and Peter Brotzmann and Han Bennink's '
"Schwarzwaldfahrt". But whereas on those records the musicians went out to nature, here, the reverse happened. As an old classical label's motto used to state, "turnabout is fair play"

"Good Morning" is a refreshing wakeup call. It begins with bleary-eyed twitters and builds to a climax with Smoker's trumpet framed by the spiraling sopranos of Golia and Whitecage. Smoker's trumpet on this track has an almost classical poise. "Smoking Valves" begins as a percussive duo between Rosen and the trumpeter clicking his valves. Soon Whitecage joins in with his pads and Golia plays a blues-inflected bass clarinet solo with serpentine lines. The piece ends as it began with the ticking patter of Rosen's hi-hat and Smoker's clicking valves. It's a remarkable conclusion to a remarkable record. Rosen has shown himself to be a masterful musical organizer. Whether he's playing solo or choosing three horn players to augment his vision, the results are always strongly directed on this disc. Strongly recommended.