Cloudmakers Trio ‘Abstract Forces’ (Whirlwind) 4/5

cloudmakers-trioVibist Jim Hart is a musician who likes to explore the more experimental side of the vibraphone without ever losing sight of its melodic qualities. This aspect is showcased the fore on this new recording which is a trio outing featuring double bassist and Whirlwind records founder Michael Janisch and drummer Dave Smith. Where the vibes win hands down over all other percussive instruments is in the atmospheric and subtle use of building up tension and then release and this is exemplified on arguably the strongest number in ‘Early Hours’, a composition that Astor Piazzolla could conceivably have created. Elsewhere the groove-laden bass line of ‘Social Assassin’ recalls mid-1960s Bobby Hutcherson, who seems to be a formative influence on Hart, and on the very Hutcherson sounding opener ‘Snaggletooth’. On the ballad ‘Ramprasad’ the empathetic rapport between drummer Dave Smith and the leader is emphasized while the percussive ‘Angular Momentum’ has something of an African undercurrent to it. What Jim Hart demonstrates above all else on this latest album is just how much space the vibraphone can fill, both as a lead and comping instrument, creating an other world feel that even an acoustic piano may struggle to replicate.

Tim Stenhouse