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Scott Colley: Architect of the Silent Moment

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For those who follow current developments on the leading edge of the jazz art form, a simple listing of the personnel here will almost suffice to describe the music. Ralph Alessi, that arch, astringent lyricist, is on trumpet. Antonio Sánchez, the most exciting new drummer in jazz, is on loan from Pat Metheny. Craig Taborn’s unpredictable creativity is present on acoustic and electric keyboards. Then there are the guests: Jason Moran on piano, Gregoire Maret on harmonica, Adam Rogers on guitar and Dave Binney on reeds.

But the operative word in the first sentence is “almost.” The way that bassist Scott Colley configures and blends all these high quality ingredients is constantly surprising. This is not an album that often settles into “solos.” Colley creates shifting, intricate structures in which individual voices are embedded. Concepts include ambient washes that do not stay calm (“Usual Illusion”), high-level free-bop (the title track), postmodern intelligent groove music (“From Within”) and avant-abstraction (“Feign Tonal”).

Those diverse individual voices, while they serve Colley’s overarching purpose, are personally compelling: Taborn’s array of keyboard sounds, Binney’s cries, Colley’s own articulate bass, Rogers’ guitar flashes, Maret’s haunting harmonica, and most predominantly, Alessi’s slanting, veering trumpet.

It is too early in the new year to vote, but Architect of the Silent Moment is on my working Top 10 list for 2007.