Advertisement
Advertisement

Rob Clutton Trio: Counsel Of Primaries

In brief:
"The trio is wonderfully balanced, the soloists are fully exposed – it's beautifully honest playing, in the manner of Lee Konitz"

I’d admired bassist and composer Rob Clutton’s previous recording, the duo Offering with New York avant-gardist Tony Malaby (2019, also on Snailbongbong). It was aptly described by Downbeat as “expansive and sensitive in spirit”, and that seems a good description of the present album also, which features an all-Canadian trio of alto saxophone, bass and drums.

The two albums have a common compositional approach: several pieces began as deconstructions of improvised bass lines from Clutton’s archive of recordings. In both cases, there’s a richness and fluidity to the music-making that’s very engaging.

Advertisement

Clutton is a long-time and formidable presence on the Toronto jazz scene, which is a major one. He has a song-based project called the Cluttertones, but recordings have focused on more avant-garde material. On Counsel his very simpatico partners are Nick Fraser and Karen Ng, the latter a compelling, original voice on alto saxophone. Her playing isn’t as bluesy as Ornette Coleman’s, but it’s a sound that couldn’t have existed without the jazz revolution that Coleman wrought. Early influences – she explains by email – were Lee Konitz and Lester Young as well as Ornette, and she studied with the ICP (Instant Composer’s Pool). It figures that she’s a fan of cool players Steve Lacy, John Carter, Jimmy Giuffre, Julius Hemphill and Marion Brown.

The trio is wonderfully balanced, the soloists are fully exposed – it’s beautifully honest playing, in the manner of Lee Konitz.

The album begins with Strata, in which sax and drums are prominent; an insistent cymbal pulse interacts with free and tonally complex work from the saxophonist. Festival has an Ornette Coleman-ish ethos, with Fraser echoing the march feel of Ed Blackwell. In the dirge-like Sterling, saxophone and arco bass explore dark, broken phrases in a kind of lugubrious heterophony; percussion is subdued but gradually expands its role through the piece. The stately Old Nick, and the jaunty, bucolic Shelter that follows it, make a neat contrast – Ng’s soloing here is beautifully nuanced.

The 10 tracks add up to a very substantial, varied and rewarding musical experience.

Hear/buy Rob Clutton Trio: Counsel Of Primaries at robclutton.bandcamp.com/album/counsel-of-primaries

Discography
Strata; Festival; Sterling; Counsel of Primaries; Cloak; Hounds; Thing One; Old Nick; Shelter; Magnetic (66.31)
Karen Ng (as); Rob Clutton (b); Nick Fraser (d). Toronto, nd.
Snailbongbong Records SBB007

Latest audio reviews

Advertisement

More from this author

Advertisement

Jazz Journal articles by month

Advertisement

Chris Hopkins: Meets The Kangaroos Live! Vol 1

New Jersey born Chris Hopkins grew up in Germany. His recording career has included piano albums for Arbors records, which included the noted trombonist...
Advertisement

Obituary: Annie Ross

Born into show business, Annie Ross had a long career with extraordinary highs and dark lows that saw her perform and excel in many...
Advertisement

Jazz: what a difference ney makes

“I was able to dig deeper than before into my musical heritage” says bass guitarist Shez Raja of his current CD Tales From The...
Advertisement

Anadolu Psych 1965-80: The Turkish Psychedelic Music Explosion

When I wrote about the Istanbul Jazz Festival recently, I commented that following Mozart, jazz had appropriated Turkish music – in the form of...
Advertisement

Billy Cobham: Jazz Legends, Live At The Palais Des Festivals Hall, Cannes 1989

Despite the sighting of two mullets and a mix dominated by a synth sound you would associate with Spandau Ballet, this 45-minute show from...
Advertisement

JJ 01/71: Sun Ra at Seymour Hall, London

Featured attraction of a concert at Seymour Hall in November was the band led by musician, philosopher and poet Sun Ra. An article on...