Frames is the 2013 debut album from the instrumental duo of pianist Brian Haas and drummer Matt Chamberlain, both artists who have extensive credits to their names across a variety of genres from rock to jazz and beyond. Haas, who previously released two well-received solo albums, is best known as a co-founding member of the experimental Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. For his part, Chamberlain got his start playing with Edie Brickell and Pearl Jam -- leaving before the release of Ten -- and even spent time as a member of the Saturday Night Live Band before embarking on a creatively fertile career performing with jazz artists like Brad Mehldau and Bill Frisell, as well as recording his own albums. Frames finds the duo collaborating on a handful of Haas' compositions that straddle the line between instrumental jazz, avant-garde classical music, and experimental post-rock. Haas and Chamberlain are also joined here by guitarist Peter Tomshany, keyboardist/programmer Costa Stasinopoulos, and keyboardist Chris Combs, all of whom lend various atmospheric layers to Haas' songs throughout the album. Haas has a deft, technically proficient style on the piano and his circular, often hypnotic songs (which were composed as a suite) sometimes explore a ruminative rock sound. They seem like they could easily accommodate vocals and lyrics, but the fact that they don't feels purposeful, designed to instead accommodate copious amounts of exploratory, atmospheric soundscapes and improvisation. The alchemy brings to mind many influences, from Chopin to Keith Jarrett, from James P. Johnson to Philip Glass and Steve Reich. It also fits nicely, if uniquely, alongside similar works by more contemporary artists including the Bad Plus, the Dirty Three, and Jason Moran. While the way these disparate sounds come together makes Haas and Chamberlain's music difficult to categorize, it also makes it a unique pleasure to witness.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar