Keefe Jackson

Just Like This

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In Chicago, musicians with any type of connection to jazz's avant-garde continue to wear the name Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) like a badge of honor -- and with good reason. The AACM, since the '60s, has been having a profound influence on avant-garde jazz by favoring space rather than density and offering a contemplative, reflective alternative to the blistering atonality associated with Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, and late-period John Coltrane (play Coltrane's scorching Om next to the recordings of Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, and it is impossible to overlook the fact that the AACM has generally represented a kinder, gentler approach to avant-garde jazz). But being influenced by the AACM does not mean that Chicago residents are obligated to follow some type of script rigidly. For example, tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist Keefe Jackson (an Arkansas native who relocated to the Windy City) brings an intriguing variety of influences to Just Like This. Jackson, who recorded this 55-minute disc in Chicago in 2007, clearly appreciates the AACM's use of space, but Just Like This is hardly a carbon copy of Braxton's or Mitchell's work. Instead, Jackson and his band Project Project also draw on non-AACM influences ranging from Charles Mingus to Ornette Coleman. The version of Project Project that Jackson leads on Just Like This is a 12-person unit that is dominated by horns -- except for bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly, everyone on this album is a horn player -- and the horn arrangements definitely owe something to Mingus' bands. But while Mingus' inside/outside recordings were much more inside than outside, Just Like This is a lot freer and is often more outside than inside. Both AACM and non-AACM influences serve Jackson well on this appealing CD.

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