One of the busiest players in Chicago's jazz/improvised music scenes, the name of vibraphonist and composer Jason Adasiewicz always seems to come up when discussing recordings by some of the most dynamic and cutting edge musicians and ensembles from that town. Adasiewicz himself have led a few combos on his own, and the latest, Sun Rooms, made its recording debut last year that was widely praised. And justifiably so.
This trio, with Nate McBride on bass and Mike Reed on drums, is back again with its second album, Spacer. The easiest way to describe the record is as a direct continuation of the ideas Adasiewicz & Crew put forth on the first record, which is to say sonically spare, harmonically dense advanced bop stretched to its limits. The whole lean arrangement puts an additional onus on the leader to take on several roles at once, as the soloist, accompanist and a member of the rhythm section, but Adasiewicz is up to the task.
As with the prior release, it's hard not to marvel at Adasiewicz's vibes attack, which takes the innovations of Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson and goes further. He even reaches for new intonations on his instrument, like the semi-muted way he strikes the keys on the solo performances he makes at the beginning and end of the album. He swings with an air of mystery on Hi Touch" and bonds with Reed on the rhythmically-based melody of Run Fly" (see YouTube below). He can make the notes rain down and fill up the sonic space effortlessly using his four mallet approach; Bees" is a pretty good example of that. Waiting In The Attic" finds the whole ensemble rolling together without minding the timekeeping.
Out of all the various configurations you can find Jason Adasiewicz performing in, Sun Rooms is perhaps the purest form of his creativity. Spacer, therefore is an ideal way to appreciate who I maintain is the most important vibraphonist of his generation.