Near Earth

Jeff Johnson

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Near Earth Review

by Adam Greenberg

Among the things coming recently from Seattle's Origin label is some top-notch improvisational jazz, much of it from a small collection of local musicians banding together from time to time for sessions that magically form into a coherent whole. On Near Earth, three of these musicians do what they do best -- make such music. Saxophonist Hans Teuber, bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer Tad Britton play a few original Johnson numbers and a couple of classics along the way, but the focus is firmly in an improvised set. The trio simply starts out in mild chaos: different meters, different tempos, different keys. Somewhere along the way, they spontaneously meet at a compromise and carry on with something entirely different, but something that works. While they don't start out on the same page, they do start out with the same mindset and end up at the same destination. It's not quite in the stereotypical free jazz sound, but it uses the free jazz method. It's not quite in the traditional styles, but it uses their songs and motives. The album sits comfortably between pigeonholes and gives the listener something refreshing.

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