Jay Rosen | CIMP Records
Songs for Samuel
David Dupont

When Iíve heard Rosen either on record or in performance Iíve been struck most by his ability to buttress an ensemble, notably Trio X, both rhythmically and texturally. Songs for Samuel, a recital dedicated to his father who died just two months before the recording, brings that musicality front and center.

Even on a program of a dozen pieces for solo drum set, Rosen comes off as the thoughtful artist, just the opposite of the egoist. That image of raging narcissist behind the drum set is more a figment of critical imagination than in realityóI frankly wonder about the aesthetic discernment of critics who dismiss drum solos. How can you understand Jazz if you donít comprehend the rhythmic complexities of the drums? Those writers could start enhancing their appreciation of drum solos with Jay Rosenís pieces here. Each is a tightly constructed composition. Thereís clearly thought put into them ahead of time, but that just prepares Rosen for the spontaneity of performance.

Each song has a distinctive character determined by clear motifs that inform the entire song. That can be the loose ringing bass triple time of Part 5 or the low rumbling quaking of part 6 or the determined march of part 8 with its lagging New Orleans cadence. Those motifs rely not only on rhythm, but shadings of pitch and color. These truly are songs.

While Rosen has made excellent use of a drum kit fortified with various bells and whistles, he doesnít rely on those to attract attention. Rather, these pieces should be enjoyed for their structural felicities, the give and take of ideas, percussive melodic ideas growing and contracting forming a satisfying sonic arc. And on parts 7 and 12 he shows that he can extend those arcs across several themes without diminishing their strength. All in all a striking recital.