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Paco Charlin: The Ultimate Jazz Earth-tet

Paco Charlin is not the sort of bassist-leader who solos first and frequently. He puts his stamp on this quartet session through nine sophisticated compositions and intelligently clarified arrangements. Like Dave Holland, the current paradigm for bassist-bandleaders, Charlin motivates his ensemble by the creative complexity of the energy he generates. And he does solo. “Tale of a Child” and “Improlography” are three-minute bass mini-recitals-detailed, fleet and complete.

Charlin’s concepts here are executed by strong personnel. Alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg both have ideas to burn, mostly fresh and focused. On a jerky Charlin line like “Difrok,” Kreisberg is all wooly (dis)chords and Shaw is all angles and tangents, but everything coheres. “Waltz of Souls” has long, involved, sometimes concurrent forays by Shaw and Kreisberg and drummer Donald Edwards, contained within the song’s teetering, fitful dance. “2K2” is thought provoking next-generation bop, with purposeful effusions from Shaw and Kreisberg. Shaw’s slightly sharp tone is a wake-up call. Kreisberg’s sounds are various, from ice crystals in single-note strings (like on “Suihy Kebo”) to warm fuzz (like on “Fli-Fla”).

Whatever the current dire challenges to the viability of jazz as a business, projects like Paco Charlin’s Earth-tet create faith in the ongoing viability of jazz as an art form.

Originally Published