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Jason Roebke Octet: Cinema Spiral

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The Jason Roebke Octet is the gathering of a tribe, a robust contingent of Chicago-based bandleaders who came to prominence mostly during the aughts and frequently play on each other’s records. The group’s 2014 debut, High/Red/Center, was a bruising, squalling collection of 11 songs that often romped like a team of horses, lacing the creamy chromaticism of Mingus with the blues of Julius Hemphill and the urgency of David Murray and Oliver Lake.

Recorded in 2014, shortly after the release of High/Red/Center, Cinema Spiral is very different, a continuous 52-minute performance labeled for listener identification into seven movements. The lineup still features five distinct horns-Josh Berman (trumpet), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Greg Ward (alto), Jason Stein (bass clarinet) and Keefe Jackson (tenor, sopranino and contrabass clarinet)-and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz in lieu of a pianist alongside bassist Roebke and drummer Mike Reed. But for all that firepower, there is a fluttering quietude and intuitive openness, especially in the first half of the work, which feels a bit like early Art Ensemble of Chicago. More specifically, this music evokes Roscoe Mitchell, with whom Roebke served as a copyist in the late ’90s.

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