Bridge 61 one is made up of Ken Vandermark on saxophones, bassist (acoustic and electric) Nate McBride, drummer Tim Daisy, and bass clarinetist Jason Stein. While Vandermark wrote half the album, Daisy and McBride each contributed two tunes. This is vanguard jazz that's full of direction, circular rhythms, and explosive collisions between Vandermark and Stein. But it's never an all-out blowing session. Vandermark likes repetition, just not stagnation. Here one saxophone line can become a tonal possibility for the rest of the band to improvise on. McBride's bass provides an anchor for the really well-developed improvisers who continually engage space and then obliterate it. The beautiful head lines Daisy wrote for "Atlas" feel almost like Eastern European folk music before the blues break in with McBride's bass stroll and the bluesy pattern of Stein's solo before Vandermark engages it contrapuntally and then solos himself after bringing back just a part of the melody over and again. Gorgeous stuff, really. There is some real avant-swing in this cut. Other standouts here include the strange, stiff, white boy avant-funk in "Nothing Open," the meditative "29 Miles of Black Snow," and the brutal but beautiful "Shatter," on which McBride's electric bass gets played like a guitar digging hard into tough riffs before giving way to a gentle, intricate melody played by the horns, as the bassist plays a "Kashmir"-like backing. Dynamics and tensions continue to build and release but never completely. At about five minutes in the whole band gets into the act and moves it into overdrive and the cut just rocks! Journal is certainly worth hearing for fans of any of the musicians here, or just the new jazz in general.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek