Drummer Jeff Cosgrove’s History Gets Ahead Of The Story is mesmerising on many levels. First of all, arguably a rarity in this day and age, the overall sound is like a warm blanket on a winter’s day and the punch and layered texture of the drums make the record sound even more inviting. Secondly, Cosgrove’s trio of saxophonist Jeff Lederer and organist John Medeski warmed to the challenge of performing the compositions of bassist William Parker and regularly hit bull’s eye.
William Parker and Jeff Cosgrove have thread a similar path of improvisational music and released Alternating Current in 2014 and Near Disaster in 2019, which also included pianist Matthew Shipp. Parker’s music, modelled from minimal motives, modality and a lurid sense of tunefulness, merits plenty attention and leaves a lot of room for personal expression.
Both title and content of Things Fall Apart aptly reflect the trio’s vision. Though more precisely it should read in brackets: And We Put Them Back Together Again. Behind the surface of the piece, built from a couple of crunchy figures and scraps of melody, one intuitively senses a balanced pattern of harmony, courtesy of the trio’s responsive interplay and cogent individual statements.
Gospel Flowers, a balancing act of semi-waltz and drone, is as winsome as Things Fall Apart. Corn Meal Dance’s sensuality and staccato violence tightens the cords between Cannonball Adderley’s Country Preacher and Pharaoh Sanders’s Karma. O’Neal’s Porch and Harlem employ a blues-based gait as the starting – and breaking – point for relentless free expression.
Expressionism finds its climax in the stately song Purcell’s Lament. Lederer is a wildly imaginative player of tenor and soprano sax and flute, ecstatic and full of warmth, a mix that is supported by far-reaching technical command of his instruments. Medeski fits right in, fiery and revelling in an effective display of different Hammond organ sounds. The pulse and melodic finesse of Cosgrove firmly directs proceedings.
Over the years, way too much improv has been flung into the realm without a clear grasp of the past. It is not that way with History Gets Ahead Of The Story, which cleverly integrates both mainstream and progressive tradition into the wonderfully refreshing world that it is unto itself.
Find out more about Jeff Cosgrove: History Gets Ahead Of The Story at jeffcosgrovemusic.com
O’Neal’s Porch; Corn Meal Dance; Gospel Flowers; Little Bird; Ghost; Moon; Things Fall Apart; Wood Flute Song; Purcell’s Lament; Harlem (63.13)
Cosgrove (d); Jeff Lederer (ts, as, f); John Medeski (org). Saugerties, NY, 2018.