Topaz

Quake

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

On Quake, downtown cello boss Erik Friedlander teams up with Japan's fraternal rhythm section the Takeishi brothers (Stomu and Satoshi on bass and drums, respectively) as well as alto saxophonist Andy Laster for a date of intimate, knotty new jazz. In working with an electric bassist in this setting, the opportunities for unique tonalities are everywhere and are exploited to some degree as they were on an earlier work, The Watchman. Over the years, however, Friedlander has become a composer of interesting ensembles and Quake's is no exception. What is so remarkable about the performances on this recording are details such as counterpoint; on the opener, Laster and Stomu have equal opportunities to engage Friedlander and each other for a knotty, but exhilarating, ride. On the erratically paced and wonderfully breathless "Wire," Friedlander brings shades of different jazz eras and styles to comprise the body of the composition while intense harmonic invention takes places in each musician's solo. The title cut uses Israeli folk themes to construct an ebb-and-flow narrative statement that engages elements of modal jazz, post-bop, klezmer, smoky, simmering funk, and other Middle Eastern music on its ride into ecstasy. Ultimately, Quake is a newer and finer example than anything before of Friedlander's unified vision of not only jazz but also the engagement of the dynamic and harmonic within an ensemble to create something that is compelling, beautiful, and unusual even in the outsider downtown tradition.

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