Songs for Samuel
After appearances on 39 CIMP titles in the last 10 years, drummer Jay Rosen poses alone for snapshot No. 40. Songs for Samuel offers 12 exploratory solo pieces in honor of Rosen’s father, who passed away three months before the album was recorded. Rosen sprinkles in a few accoutrements (xylophone, organ pipes and even propeller), but his drums supply the primary vocabulary for this fascinating oneman conversation.
Only one piece is explicitly about Rosen’s father: “Part 6,” as Rosen explains in the liner notes, depicts the struggling breaths of the senior Rosen’s final days with stirring organ pipes. Yet each track exudes the solemnity and joy that loss can inspire. “Part 7” glides between quick beats and distant echoes, while “Part 5” creates a somber rhythm with well-chosen flourishes. Even the brief “Part 9” holds enough ringing bells, slapping rolls and bouncing toms to fill entire albums.
But those seeking extended workouts should steer clear. Unafraid to play simply, repeat himself or even go silent, Rosen lets his ideas and emotions guide his playing, not vice versa. The result is a rare solo creation that reveals both the head and heart of the artist who crafted it.