|One Final Note Review
While alto saxophonist Rob Brown has been an integral component to several top-notch ensembles over the last decade and a half, his recordings as a leader have unfortunately been rather infrequent. Jumping Off The Page debuts a new Brown quartet, featuring Roy Campbell (trumpet), Jackson Krall (drums) and young bassist Chris Lightcap, and—though the results are mixed—the group surely implies a significant leap in the development of Brown's music.
The musicianship is mindblowing from the outset, especially in the freeboppish dueling of "Twinkle", where Brown and Campbell blast lines of relentless power over Lightcap and Krall's roiling sustenance. But the first five tracks, though they do shift in mood and intensity, fall into the same trap that has burdened many of Brown's previous recordings—the utter predictability of the songforms. That is not to say that listeners won't derive great pleasure from the spindly, Coleman/Cherry-like harmonies of "Flat Out" or the portentous ostinato of "Sonic Drawl", but the melody-solos-melody constructions begin to wear a bit thin when heard in such a consecutive stream. Yet upon reaching the sixth track, the proceedings begin to loosen up. "Charcoal Glow" omits the horn solos, choosing instead to let the cool melody and shuffling rhythm speak for itself; "Step With Care" features an astonishing duo section between Brown's gently wavering flute and Krall's brushed dexterity; and "Open Channel" finds Brown and Campbell trading notes with telepathic precision in a more freely structured blowout to conclude the disc.
Architectural complaints aside, Jumping Off The Page is still an excellent recording—and any admirer of Brown or Campbell's playing in particular will no doubt find plenty of praiseworthy material within.