Mike Reed

Last Year's Ghost

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Creative improvising drummer and composer Mike Reed has taken up the challenge of making music based on two precepts -- one as netherworld free improvisation, and the other rooted in a modern modal and jazz induced method. Both of these unconventional concepts don't work as much together as the one sets up preludes for the other, depending on their placements during this ambitious program. The ghostly inferences are clear, fairly short, to the point and generally ethereal, working on similar but somewhat varied frameworks. The longer pieces have a solid swing element and fall along lines that are quite accessible and musically valid. Loose Assembly is a young quintet of Chicago based musicians, bassist Josh Abrams being the most prominent. Alto saxophonist Greg Ward sounds like a Marty Ehrlich disciple, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz uses sparse component phrases, and cellist Tomeka Reid fairly soars and swoops through these pieces. It's a stunning combination of timbres and techniques. There's some very hip music here, headlined by "Ghost Writer," a 6/8 modal figure informed by Reed's insistent, prickly snare riff and forged by loose phraseology that somehow comes together focused, but not surreal. A bass and alto unison line drives the well swung "Day of the Dead," while a bluesy swing and Abrams two-note line and thoughtful solo sets "The Entire State of Florida" apart from the rest of the compositions. A creaky floorboard sound surrounds "Old Souls," "1974" is a free wig-out, "Temporary States" imitates sea shanty chimes, and "Dreaming with Jill" is a sweet, less than half-conscious love song. The contrasts and juxtapositions between the tracks are quite well programmed and not jarring. These be friendly ghosts me hearties, from recent times. Reed gathers them, with gifts, to haunt the evil out of your souls. It's a very interesting and accessible disc worth owning and listening closely to.

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