Nicholas Brust: Frozen In Time

In brief:
A very impressive piece of work from a saxophonist whose grasp of tone colour makes him immediately distinctive and listenable.

Time slows down with the absence of heat. You have this direct from the great physicist Carlo Rovelli, but it’s one of the ideas behind the title track here. Time and heat, sometimes more heat than light (whose speed is constant, Rovelli would also tell you), are important values in jazz. There’s a constant tension in the music between hot jazz and cool jazz. Sometimes we elevate the one above the other, but they’re both always there, or else it turns into a combustible mess or it goes glacial. And there’s a constant tension between time and freedom.

That’s what Brust is all about. He plays confidently with these tensions. He isn’t one of those players who either emotes of invites you to inspect his tone rows. He writes and plays from experience and part of that experience is listening to music. So: Frozen In Time is directly inspired, via Rovelli, by Chris Cheek’s Ice Fall from the Vine album; Adversity is a clever and highly effective application of George Coleman’s quartal harmony; Soliloquy In F Minor (which doesn’t sound like its title suggest) was suggested by Robert Glasper’s music and by Roy Hargrove; while A Shifting State plays with the idea of melody over a constantly shifting bass pattern.

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Work Ahead and Brooklyn Folk Song are more direct in approach, straightforward evocations of the city where Brust is making his way on the music scene. And making his way impressively. He has a fine group behind him and he works with them rather than on top of them. If there are a dozen more tunes like these in his workbook, the follow-up (I’m rather assuming that, mature as it is, this is a debut recording) should be more than worthwhile. A very impressive piece of work from a saxophonist whose grasp of tone colour makes him immediately distinctive and listenable.

Discography
Work Ahead; Hearts And Spades; Brooklyn Folk Song; Frozen In Time; Hymnal For Those In Need; Adversity; Something Like A Storm; Soliloquy In F Minor; A Shifting State (54.00)
Brust (as); Ben Eunson (g); Tuomo Uusitalo (b); Jay Sawyer (d).
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNTCD 601

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