With the exception of certain legends like J.J., Kai, and Big T, trombonists tend to be the consummate outsiders of jazz; they know the rules of the game, but they prefer their own style. That was true for Bob Brookmeyer, Ray Anderson, and Craig Harris—each a great sideman but a better innovator—and it’s true of Jacob Garchik. He has elevated dozens of great bands led by the likes of Lee Konitz, Henry Threadgill, and Mary Halvorson, but his own records are events unto themselves. He’s tackled gospel (The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album), heavy metal (Ye Olde), and brass choirs (Clear Line). Yet, his latest, Assembly, is something altogether different.
Drop the needle indiscriminately on Assembly and risk the error of small sample size. At times it sounds like the long-awaited Jacob Garchik blowing session, but it doesn’t stay in that groove for long. Although his band’s configuration whiffs of convention—saxophonist Sam Newsome and bassist Thomas Morgan join his longtime partners in crime, pianist Jacob Sacks and drummer Dan Weiss—the music suggests a jazz recording either lost in the throes of late-era Beatles or Teo Macero’s fondest daydreams. The studio is practically a member of the ensemble.
There are overlays, delays, and dubs, but none of the flash and dash detracts from the music; instead, it makes the experience more compelling. “Idée Fixe” loops a Sacks solo that turns into a cathartic build-up for a Weiss solo. On “Fantasia,” Newsome adds a tube to his soprano to make it sound more like a bass saxophone. And on “Homage,” which is loosely based on McCoy Tyner’s “Contemplation,” the quintet is overdubbed into a big band with orchestral heft and small-combo flexibility. Clearly Garchik likes ambitious ideas, and they like him a lot too.
Learn more about Assembly at Amazon!