Sticks and Stones
Drummer Chad Taylor, Mazurek's Chicago Underground partner, is also keeping himself busy. The collective trio Sticks and Stones, featuring Taylor, bassist Josh Abrams and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts, makes its recorded debut with a self-titled CD for 482 Music. This band came together as the house band for Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, and there is a strong Chicago pedigree here. Taylor aside, Abrams has been involved with Town and Country, and Roberts claims membership in the AACM. Sticks and Stones' poor recording quality doesn't do Roberts any favors. She plays with a light, papery tone and a touch of Steve Lacy's acidic bite. With a self-effacing style, she often prefers long, lyrical lines capped with a terminal vibrato to anything grandstanding or brash. In this murky recording environment, her quiet contributions sound more reluctant and tentative then they would in a clearer, more balanced setting. Beyond that, it's a solid date for the trio: a few swingers, some free-er things and a quirky, throwaway cover of Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Son of Slaves." The group sound best when Roberts floats her slow melodic lines over Taylor and Abrams' tightly focused, forward-motion rhythms.