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Ken Wessel, Ken Filiano, Lou Grassi: Jawboning

Former Ornette Coleman sideman Ken Wessel steps out here with his own freewheeling trio with drummer Lou Grassi and bassist Ken Filiano. Their interpretation of two standards, “I Remember You” and “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise,” is shrouded by abstraction. In both cases, Wessel doesn’t reference the familiar themes until the group is well into an improvised fray (and dig his insane whammy-bar work on the intro to their raucous rendition of “Softly”). And in each case, drummer Grassi makes the smooth transition from rolling free pulse to insistently swinging 4/4 groove. Wessel blows confidently over the changes to “I Remember You,” showcasing legato chops and fresh note choices, while revealing his more avant free-bop instincts on his own vibrantly swinging title track.

The guitarist demonstrates an adeptness at creating a spacious ambiance with delay lines and volume-pedal swells on Filiano’s comples suite, “Behind the Mirror.” And he shows a penchant for gentle lyricism on his lovely ballad “Sunset,” which also serves as a showcase for Filiano’s expressive arco work. The trio closes out with the collective improv, “Diminutive Innuendos,” full of darting, jagged lines and daring intervallic leaps by the adventurous and underrated guitarist.

Originally Published