Off beat time signatures introduce "A Few Dozen" to a wonderfully talented ax man by the name of Bruce Arnold. Playing interesting and fractured chords with the trio solidly behind him, Bruce unleashes a musical journey that is so enticing to listen to. It’s the unorthodox way that Bruce plays. One gets the feeling that he is in touch with his soul, and not notes that are written out. It’s the feeling and creation of atmosphere that count in Bruce’s playing. His style is similar to Bill Frisell’s. Ratzo Harris takes an intense round on the strings. You can almost swear he was inside the bass riding on Bruce’s melody, while Tony is building the scene with effective cymbal work. Bruce comping along behind Tony and Ratzo and then stepping in with more of his guitar.
"Reflection" is a ballad with some soft playing from Bruce. Ratzo’s subtle bass playing reminds me a bit of David Friesen, and the way that he approached the bass while playing a ballad. This one belongs to Ratzo. Bruce’s careful and delicate strumming highlight not only Ratzo’s playing, but the interaction that is going on among the musicians.
An eerie opening from Bruce, and Tony’s percussion work, build this piece into an industrial type vehicle. Haunting, and probing in nature, one can only imagine walking a night with shadows around you, the groove evolving. Bruce takes us on a trip into the mind, a different level. Building on simple rhythms. it’s like toffee for the ears. Stretching notes, playing under, and in the aural landscape. "Numbers Prelude" and the following "Numbers" are a perfect example of working with different sounds that all work together. Guitarist Tim Brady’s work is similar in nature. What makes this piece so intriguing is the way that Bruce uses not only notes, and mood, but also silence to create this special moment.
"Dialog" continues to showcase the trio as a whole. Working together creating levels of sonic delight that tease and entice the listener. Sounds abound and interact among the trio. Spatial boundaries are erased one can almost see the kinetic energy flowing between them.
This is Bruce’s latest recording (He has four). His continued work creating various sounds and possibilities within the moment demonstrate that he is a musician both flexible in nature, and musically inclined on his own terms. One of the key recordings to come out in Y2K, let’s hope that Bruce can continue to gratify us with his unique approach.