As a Psychologist/Neuroscientist, Baltimore resident Stobu Nowe might have some added insight, regarding the mind’s elucidation of melody within freely improvised musical environs. No doubt, he’s a seriously talented pianist who admittedly cites Keith Jarrett as a major influence. Recorded on the second floor of the Baltimore area record shop An Die Musik as part of Bernard Lyon’s "Creative Differences" series, this set offers the antithesis of your typical free-improvisation type fare. Therefore, the common denominator is centered upon Stowe’s reengineering of melody lines, yet the bottom line is that the trio abides by a democratic modus operandi.
Stowe alternates these ten tracks including the eleventh piece, which is noted as an encore, by performing within duo and trio settings with drummer Alan Munshower and tabla legend Badal Roy. Again, the band goes against the grain by forsaking riotous cacophony and extended solo breaks, often heard within free-jazz circles. Sure, variable stylizations are worthy parameters in this mode, although Stowe’s foundation is entrenched within semi-classical tonalities, where world music and expressive jazz also attain a fruitful medium.
Roy spawns the East Indian rhythmic flavor while instilling a wonderful sequence of contrasts. In addition, Munshower shines as a sympathetic timekeeper via his expansive metrics and multihued cymbal shadings. Nonetheless, the trio carves out a loose, yet rather vast musical plane. At times buoyant and climactic, Stowe subliminally injects mainstream-jazz and ragtime underpinnings into a few passages as well. Yet it’s predominately about freely improvised jazz undercurrents, abetted by the pianist’s memorable mini-motifs or sub-plots.
On the piece "#6 Trio III," Stowe executes sonorous chord clusters while counterbalancing the colorific drums and tabla parts. Here, the pianist projects warmth and mood-evoking thematic forays. As Roy provides an interlude of sorts during his solo simply titled "Solo Tabla." Then Stowe reemerges with stately choruses and elicits imagery of gently rolling hills on "#9: Duo III."
Ultimately, the success of this outing comprises an aggregation of subtly rendered methodologies. While Stowe's a formidable composer, evidenced by past projects with Italian percussion great Andreas Centazzo and others, the artist’s free-form creative juices are wondrously focused and engagingly infectious. In a loose sense, it might be considered elitist with respect to sound and scope, but the overall program intimates a thoroughly entertaining form factor that warrants repeated listens. (Strongly recommended.... )