Vibes: Knitting Factory

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Vibes is three confreres from the Knitting Factory stable; vibraphonist Bill Ware, acoustic bassist Brad Jones, and drummer/percussionist E.J. Rodriguez. They play some stunning, kinetic, forward-thinking, modern mainstream jazz with tinges of the avant-garde. In this, a live club setting, they're quite reminiscent of the Karl Berger-Dave Holland-Ed Blackwell trio. Melodies flow like a mountain stream, lines are clean and pure, abstraction and simple beauty are suspended for witty repartee and quick changes. Jazz yes, typical a resounding no. Thinking of Ware's ability, Zorro comes to mind. He's technically perfect, a bit flashy, formidable, and as a composer who wrote all the original material on this date, he's quite creative. Check out the swirling minimalism on "Margarida," the two-note ostinato setup that lets the trio sprout wings during the whole of "Bayla," or the held tension that releases so slowly, like air out of a pinched balloon, for "VCX." Pretty marvelous stuff. Deep in the denizen's blue, Ware explores a light funk ostinato on "Carousel," a straighter blues for "The Joel," and the perfectly titled 4/4 blues "Sneaky Pete," featuring a lengthy and substantive bass solo by Jones. The three "standards" are intelligently selected and rendered; Hank Mobley's "Reunion" is an easy swinger with bop inflections from all three, Bobby Timmons' "So Tired" has a popping Afro-Cuban motif, and there's a predictable, light funk instrumental of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues." Some amazing music for just a threesome, and in a Knitting Factory setting, the "vibe" is electric. This is certainly an auspicious debut from one of the more promising new combos, and a fine candidate for Jazz Group CD of 1998. Highly recommended.