Samuel Blaser: Roundabout + Triple Dip

The Swiss trombonist, variously accompanied by piano and drums, plays what the producer calls 'cliché-free art'

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Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser is based in Berlin. His first album, 7th Heaven, was recorded in 2008 with guitarist Scott DuBois, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Since then Blaser’s released over 30 albums as leader with an array of accompanying musicians, mostly in duos, trios and quartets. His current release is a double CD – a duo with American pianist Russ Lossing in Roundabout and a trio in Triple Dip with Lossing and his fellow American the veteran drummer Billy Mintz.

Lossing has performed with Paul Motian, Billy Hart, Eric McPherson, Tim Berne, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Drew Gress and many others. Mintz has played with Lee Konitz, Eddie Daniels, Gloria Gaynor, Mark Murphy, Mose Alison and Charles Lloyd amongst others.

Roundabout comprises 10 original pieces – five composed by Blaser and five by Lossing. I’d describe the content as abstract arrangements with improvisation in the moment by the duo. In the words of Jazzdor’s Philippe Ochem, who produced the album, the music is “cliché-free art in a happily uneven flow of original discourse”.

Triple Dip repeats two of the pieces from Roundabout. It has nine numbers in all – four originals by Blaser, three by Lossing and two re-arrangements – Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground and Johnny Mercer’s Love Song From Apache, the latter popularised by Coleman Hawkins’ quartet in 1963 with Tommy Flanagan on piano. The music in Triple Dip is free and spontaneous. Pairings materialise effortlessly with musicians synchronising their improvisations and then moving on to the next combination within the trio. It’s imaginative and harmonically adventurous stuff.

Both Blaser and Lossing are highly expressive on their respective instruments and Mintz is suitably minimalist on drums. The absence of a double bass makes the music sound spacious at times. Melody is fleeting but does surface on occasion. It’s more prominent in the album’s two cover versions with the trio’s plaintive rendition of Blind Willie Johnson’s song being especially memorable.


Discography
CD1: [Roundabout] (1) Roundabout; Permeate; Sospira; Twitch; Fleurette; Luglio; A Presto; Dama; Relentless; Blasercaglia (64.02)
CD2: [Triple Dip] (2) A Presto; Twitch; Free Verse; Triple Dip; Dark Was The Nght, Cold Was The Ground; Root Beer Rag; Kitchensleeper; Jingle; Love Song From Apache (62.47)

(1) Blaser (tb); Russ Lossing (p). New Jersey, 19 March 2022.
(2) as (1) but add Billy Mintz (d).
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