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Mick Rossi: One Block from Planet Earth

Recorded live at the Knitting Factory in 2002, this is the sort of sharp, manic session that a few years ago would have turned up on the the club’s label, where pianist Mick Rossi’s previous quintet recording, They Have a Word for Everything, found a home. That CD featured two of the same players from One Block From Planet Earth: reedist Andy Laster and drummer Charles Descarfino. Bassist Mark Dresser and trumpeter Russ Johnson may be new to this quintet, but they were no strangers to the old Knit scene.

Rossi brings a variety of experience to his music. He’s performed with pop singers and rockers and scored for stage and screen. Perhaps as a result, he shows no bias toward postbop and free jazz or more popular idioms like showtunes or noir themes. With about zero respect for genre boundaries or conventional pacing, Rossi throws it all into his music and follows his own dramatic sense of structure. “Changed,” for example, opens with a two-minute arco solo from Dresser, a smeary, overtone-rich opening statement that wouldn’t sound out of place at New York’s avant-friendly Vision Festival. Before the song closes, however, Rossi has the band jamming on a racy R&B vamp. “Page X” sandwiches a tango-themed B section between two iterations of tight, Eastern European show themes. The sidemen on this date understand Rossi’s music. They all color outside the lines a little but don’t push it. In turn, the pianist seems to enjoy his company-he features his sidemen at every opportunity. Only the free-ish “Stasis” drags.

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