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Cosmologic III by Cosmologic

There is a certain loquaciousness that often attaches itself to the avant-garde in the world of music, one need look no further than the writings of Xenakis or Cage to witness the regrettable fact that, despite strenuous efforts to explain, such theoretical overstatement rarely assists the listener in making the necessary leap to engage with the art form. Unfortunately, Jazz artists have been some of the worst offenders in pursuing this unrelenting agenda of legitimation (think of Anthony Braxton’s herculean efforts to link his work with mathematical principles, etc.) Cosmologic’s tendency toward this type of verbosity is ironic in that their serpentine descriptions of "multifaceted, kaleidoscopic sound worlds" in the liner notes obscure the fact that, at bottom, their music is ultimately very accessible.

The third outing from this primarily Californian ensemble moves in and out of groove-oriented tunes with a proficiency that is only outdone by the virtuosic soloing that is ubiquitous on this recording. Although I was initially awed by the trombone wailings of Michael Dessen (possibly because we simply don’t hear this instrument stretched to its limit frequently enough,) I have become equally enamored of Jason Robinson’s wrenching saxophone that is at times reminiscent of some of Hal Russell’s best efforts. Outstanding as well is Al Scholl’s Vernon Reid-like guitar on the Robinson tune "Blacon (Beyond the Divide)" a rhythmic hayburner that instantly ingrains itself in one’s memory. In addition to providing a number of the compositions featured here, drummer Nathan Hubbard displays a tenacious versatility in moving from hard-driving arrhythmic grooves to hard-rocking funk while bassist Scott Walton’s ability is most evident in the Hubbard composition "Put Some Butter On It", a tribute to Art Ensemble of Chicago bassist Malachi Favors.

Please don’t misunderstand me, these guys are avant-jazzers and don’t pass on an opportunity for free blowing. However, like their Art Ensemble predecessors, they move from free improvisation to grounded grooving compositions with a facility that demonstrates a deep appreciation for both elements of the Jazz tradition. In the final analysis, Cosmologic is set apart less by their "logic" than by their ability to enthusiastically embrace this dichotomy. World-class musicianship--highly recommended.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Cosmologic
  • CD Title: Cosmologic III
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Circumvention
  • Tracks: X Marks the Spot, Shadows at Night (Notes from a Quarry), Septurnal Spell, Put Some Butter On It (for Malachi Favors Maghostus), Indianhead Canyon, The Wrangler, Wolf in Sheeps Clothing
  • Musicians: Jason Robinson (tenor sax, clarinet, percussion), Michael Dessen (trombone, percussion), Scott Walton (bass), Nathan Hubbard (drum Kit, marimba), Toy Glockenspiel (percussion), Al Scholl (electric and acoustic guitars)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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