Jane Ira Bloom is a name that’s been on the scene for some 30 years. In that time, she has managed to compile quite the resume. She has composed for the American Composers Orchestra (NYC), the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, the Pilobolus, Paradigm, Philadanco Dance Companies, TV movie features (Shadow of A Doubt/ NBC-TV), and film soundscores (John Sayles' Silver City) writing works for large ensemble involving her signature movement techniques. She has also collaborated with classical composers premiering new works for soprano saxophone ("Sinfonia" by Augusta Read Thomas).
It’s been said that there is no one else like her, and Duke Ellington used to call her type of music "beyond category." It is this last assessment by the late jazz maestro that says it all. Because of the depth and innovativeness of Bloom’s style, categorization is sometimes difficult, although I think "free" jazz and straight-ahead jazz might be more to the point than any other categories for this particular project. She states: "Sometimes I throw sound around the band like paint and other times I play and feel as if I was carving silence like a sculptor." That’s some pretty deep imagery, and explains a lot.
On to this current project. Mental Weather is a cornucopia of experience in sound. Track 1, "A More Beautiful Question," is a sultry, lazy piece that showcases Bloom’s feel for a sultry, lazy piece. The title track works on some cool timing, flashy sax work and confident bass lines, but the piece seems to be so multi-dimensional and multi-directional that I had a hard time finding its "center." I guess a good "mental" track can do that to one. "Luminous Bridges" (my fav from the set) has more solid definition, is less frenzied, and sports a sunny rhythmic peace. "Electrochemistry" follows with some energetic goings-on, like a happy, "walking" bass, chatty sax lines, and piano work that accentuates and melds. Oh, it’s the piece for the purist, I think. Mental Weather, as a whole, is of the stuff that innovative jazz aficionados will truly appreciate.