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Aaron Seeber: First Move (Cellar)

A review of the drummer's debut album as a leader

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Aaron Seeber: First Move(Cellar)
The cover of First Move by Aaron Seeber

Aaron Seeber’s cymbals don’t mix—at least not in this mix. As presented in audio by the drummer himself and co-producer Kevin Sun, the ride and the crash are two separate planes above the dry snare and sand-shifting hi-hat. It took some getting used to, but I began after a few spins to mentally place the layers like sections of a total image as partial paintings on glass, lined up to manifest the whole. There’s some delightful blending, though, from three who would count as frontmen in anyone’s band but a drummer’s: Tim Green’s alto sax, Warren Wolf’s vibes, and Sullivan Fortner’s piano lock and load on most heads here.

Bop’s the calling for solos, so when the quintet bid you goodnight with Parker’s “Klactoveedsedstene” they nod to old and new masters alike. Earlier, though, Fortner invokes a Mal Waldron spirit through the latter’s “Fire Waltz”; Geri Allen’s “Unconditional Love” gets a subtle-textured scrubdown to suck you in; and a workout on Mingus’ “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” falls on the Duke side of their dichotomy, less the bassist’s matter-of-fact rawness than the pianist’s formal beatitude.

One last thing about the unmixing drum thing, though. It allows Seeber’s solos to be heard as they grow, leap, and bound: intelligence sprouted from an unseen acorn, building itself through challenges, emerging finally onto a plateau. Finished? Only to the extent that the tune is finished. Leaving one form of grown knowledge behind, it’s time to start from the plain.

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