There used to be an unwritten edict in the out jazz world: that music as much fun as this is to listen to had no business in the avant-garde catalog. Jam is the result of the combined talent of sax great Assif Tsahar, drum ace Jim Black, and violin maestro Mat Maneri. Over nine sections and 52 minutes, rhythmic invention meets knotty harmonic elocution and microtonal interplay in a kind of South Park-meets-Art Ensemble zeitgeist. Humor, as well as innovation in musical communication, all become part of some weave that touches upon the past, burrows out from the present, and flies into the future. Deep listening and well-articulated sonic speech are all hallmarks of the union of three very different yet complementary personages who explore together the spaces of dynamic and rhythm as they let loose the questions surrounding the textural possibilities of their instruments, together and separately. This is a jam in that it feels loose and free and unencumbered by anything other than speaking directly and warmly, and as the result of wonderfully innovative discourse whose meaning will no doubt be revealed to the listener in the decades to come. But that doesn't mean there is anything concrete or difficult to listen to in this music. Its' grace and elegance move it around so often, and with so much wit and savvy, it almost feels composed. Wondrous stuff from a great label.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek