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Human Motion by Jeff Greene: Human Motion Jazz Quintet

Listening to Human Motion is a lot like visiting an art gallery - the CD gives us an array of "sonic landscapes," as one critic puts it. Making up these "musical paintings" are contemporary explorations, never leaving straight-ahead jazz far behind. It’s perfectly clear these artists were well grounded in the basics before venturing beyond.

The ensemble consists of a group of talented young Chicago musicians playing compositions by bass player, Jeff Greene, namely Taku Akiyama on alto sax, Matt Holman on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jordan Baskin on piano and Fender Rhodes and Jon Deitemyer on drums.

Greene’s imagination often carries him into free-form with instruments conversing back and forth, trading bars, becoming increasingly animated, reaching a voluble climax before tension is quietly released. This device, changing mood mid song, is effectively displayed in several tracks.

In "Flown," for example, Akiyama’s alto engages discourse with Holman’s trumpet. They calmly start, exchanging bars, becoming increasingly dissonant before Baskin’s soothing piano comes in, moderating the swirling sound with the aid of Deitemyer’s steady background drumming. Again, using art for comparison, Munch’s "The Scream" comes to mind, with its streams of color-red sky, blue water - in the background.

Impressionistic is the label for "Places." Its calm ruminative opening leads into a spatial solo by trumpeter Holman, evoking open fields. In contrast the lively "2+1-1" features fast-paced improvisation by Holman, followed by Baskin’s brisk piano - all suggesting a Renoir party scene, if you will.

A highlight track, "Peace of Mind," is aptly titled. This time a melodic duo between trumpet and sax is followed by a subtle relaxed piano solo. (You can hear the influence of Bill Evans on Baskin here.) A bucolic Monet nature scene is hereby evoked.

Browsing through the catalogue of selections on the CD, modern art comes to mind in "Spoken." A subdued, contemplative ensemble opening soon gives way to jagged piano chords, driven by Deitemyer’s propulsive beat. Soon the horns interject themselves becoming squawks and beeps. Within this cacophony, a recognizable melody runs through. Here, Jackson Pollack's method emerges, his dripping paint on canvas in a seemingly chaotic but organized way.

Don’t let these descriptions lead you to think the album doesn’t swing. This is particularly proven in the up-tempo "November." Akiyama’s alto is featured in unison with Homan’s trumpet. This brings to mind one of William Gottlieb’s art photos of a relaxed Dizzy and Bird in a session.

This CD is not a masterpiece but well worth listening to.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jeff Greene: Human Motion Jazz Quintet
  • CD Title: Human Motion
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Jeff Greene Music
  • Tracks: Things As They Are, Places, 2+1-1, A.G. [South], In All Ways, Quiet Sky, Flown, Spoken, Peace of Mind, November
  • Musicians: Taku Akiyama (alto saxophone), Matt Holman (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jordan Baskin (piano/Fender Rhodes), Jeff Greene (bass), Jon Deitemyer (drums).
  • Rating: Four Stars
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