Faze Phour: A Twenty Year Retrospective
Black Saint/Soul Note
The fourth violinist to grace the STNY's roster since the group's inception in 1977, Diane Monroe contributes stunning musicianship and a bright, creative spark, which is no small feat given the ensemble's unique, frequently eccentric slant on virtuosic chamber improvisation.
Masters of their instruments, founders acoustic guitarist James Emery and bassist John Lindberg typically interact with precision and uncanny sympathy, which derive from their not only long association but also mutual conception. And while jazz provides a starting point for the trio's overall approach, its vision embraces many other genres, ranging from rootsier forms to the dissonant and textural provinces of "new music." One case in point is "Straight No Chaser/Raise Four," whose "head" is presented out of phase by the threesome before things settle into a steady groove peppered with pointillistic violin and guitar jabs. In contrast, Monroe's "Groovin' Roots" unfolds like a train ride through a surreal landscape, while "Introspections" provides a forum for a vibrant kaleidoscope of alternative string techniques.
Fascinating by mere virtue of its creative outpouring, this music still manages to swing and maintain a sense of coherence. Exceptional from start to finish.