Samuel Blaser ‘Spring Rain’ (Whirlwind) 3/5

samuel-blaserSwiss trombonist Samuel Blaser is a musician with a difference in that he is particularly interested in the more left-field side of jazz and has been strongly influenced by both Carla Bley and Jimmy Giuffre. On this new recording, the leader, pays homage (in part at least) to the compositional genius of multi-reedist Giuffre and the music in general oscillates between freer jazz and contemporary classical elements. Recorded in New York, the album is at its most melodic on the bright and breezy ‘Temporarily’ which is certainly a contender for strongest piece and things do pick up a little on ‘Trudgin’ which has a mid-1960s feel, though maybe the inclusion of vibes is possibly required here. Overall, it has to be said that this album makes for a difficult, though ultimately rewarding, listening experience and is one aimed primarily at lovers of free improvised music with a strong dose of classical. This is exemplified on the mournful opener, ‘Cry Want’ which becomes a trombone and piano duet, or the title track which takes a while to come to life and where the trombone makes unusual sound effects with minimalist piano out of the Phillip Glass school. Blaser has collaborated with a diverse selection of musicians including Lee Perry and. perhaps for future recordings, he might be better served livening matters up with instrumentalists from outside his tradition and idiom.
The listener would unquestionably be all the richer for that.

Tim Stenhouse