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Jay Rosen Quartet: Canticles for the Millennium

Canticles marks drummer Jay Rosen’s first date as a leader, a debut he’s chosen to share with three veteran hornmen more often found leading their own groups: Paul Smoker (trumpet), Vinny Golia and Mark Whitecage (clarinets, saxophones). They are all good players and experienced improvisers, but I can’t raise much enthusiasm for this CD.

The four longest tracks are freeform melees, all fiery entanglements and hard blowing, but with too few thoughtful touches to retain the listener’s interest. There are some nice moments, mostly from Rosen and Smoker, such as their pattering exchanges (Smoker clicking his trumpet valves) on “Smokin’ Valves.” But this kind of ad hoc improv session seems more like an old-millennium format.

Rosen demonstrates his considerable skills on two brief solo percussion tracks, while “Pia Misses Moe” (oh dear) offers barely audible solos interrupted by a wayward cricket that was lurking in the studio. If only they’d been playing “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Originally Published