Action-Refraction

Action-Refraction

by Ben Allison

CD

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Overview

Action-Refraction

Bassist Ben Allison's latest album is a collection of covers, or interpretations, of others' songs; only one is a jazz standard (Thelonious Monk's "Jackie-Ing"), and that's barely recognizable as such. The rock-oriented band, which includes saxophonist/bass clarinetist Michael Blake, guitarist Steve Cardenas (and a second guitarist, Brandon Seabrook, on two tracks), keyboardist Jason Lindner, and drummer Rudy Royston, churns through PJ Harvey's "Missed," Donny Hathaway's "Some Day We'll All Be Free," Neil Young's "Philadelphia," and Paul Williams' "We've Only Just Begun," along with classical composer Samuel Barber's "St Ita's Vision" and one Allison original, the album-closing "Broken." The sound, frequently led by Cardenas with Allison providing a rocksteady throb beneath, is somewhere in the neighborhood of rock; "Missed" sounds like Tom Waits' incorporation of rhumba on 1985's Rain Dogs, while the Hathaway tune becomes a repetitive vamp with Lindner's keyboards providing swooping noises and atmospheric static. "Philadelphia" strips the band down to guitar, bass and gently brushed drums, sounding like a Bill Frisell project in the process. "St. Ita's Vision" brings the keyboards front and center, going for a spacy prog rock vibe reminiscent of early-'70s Tangerine Dream or some Krautrock outfit. "We've Only Just Begun" is the closest thing here to true jazz, with melodic extrapolations rather than repetition, rhythmic fluidity, etc. Blake even launches a tenor solo that goes pretty out, with plenty of squeaks and squawks to strip the song of any lingering associations with the Carpenters. "Broken" is another atmospheric slow burner, Lindner's keyboard sounds reminiscent of Autechre at times. Action-Refraction isn't a straight jazz album, but it's more likely to appeal to young jazz listeners than to indie rock fans, though it offers pleasures for anyone with open ears.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/12/2011
Label: Palmetto Records
UPC: 0753957214920
catalogNumber: 2149
Rank: 223292

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ben Allison   Primary Artist,Bass
Steve Cardenas   Guitar
Rudy Royston   Drums
Jason Lindner   Piano,Prophet Synthesizer
Brandon Seabrook   Guitar
Micahel Blake   Bass Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone

Technical Credits

Samuel Barber   Composer
Matt Balitsaris   Producer,Engineer
Donny Hathaway   Composer
Neil Young   Composer
PJ Harvey   Composer
Ben Allison   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Song Notes
Thelonious Monk   Composer
Paul Williams   Composer
Roger Nichols   Composer
Shawn Dos Santos   Artwork

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