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Rows and Rows - Keefe Jackson, Jason Adasiewicz: CD Review


Rows and Rows - Keefe Jackson, Jason Adasiewicz


Keefe Jackson – Bass clarinet, tenor saxophone

Jason Adasiewicz – Vibraphone

As far as duet albums go, it is safe to say that pairing of a vibraphone player and bass clarinetist (or tenor saxophone for that matter) is a rare occurrence in any musical genre. Then again, Keefe Jackson and Jason Adasiewicz are not conventional artists by any sense of the word. Both are vital members of Chicago’s creative music scene and restlessly innovative. Rows and Rows is made up of nine perfectly crafted, vibrant originals that are simultaneously angular and lyrical that brim with intelligent spontaneity.

The baroque-inspired “Thunder Cooker” for instance, is a darkly hued and dramatic dialogue constructed like a mosaic. Jackson’s reverberating clusters of notes and Adasiewicz’s crystalline cascading tones form shimmering, edgy sonic nuggets that fit together to make a kaleidoscopic tune.

Crisp and clever exchanges mark the entire album and range from the humorous to the wistful. The whimsical “Where’s Mine” features the clean bursts of Adasiewicz’s mallets that shatter against Jackson’s lithe and melodic lines. The resonant and scintillating give and take is both delightfully irreverent and brilliantly inventive. The melancholic “A Rose Heading” is a jagged and tender elegy. Jackson’s mournful clarinet and Adasiewicz’s chiming, tolling vibraphone improvise tense and somber phrases around one another. The intimate, free-flowing music is stimulating and poetic.

A cinematic ambience permeates most of the disc. On the soulful title track, Jackson blows a blues-tinged tenor saxophone, while Adasiewicz counters with rolling agile lines. Despite its seemingly conventional structure, the performance retains enough of a dissonance to be refreshingly engaging. The solemn “Cannon from the Nothing Suite” is equally expansive and vivid. Adasiewicz bows and percusses the bars to a haunting, spiritual effect, while Jackson’s wailing saxophone adds a sublime chant-like quality to the piece.

Rows and Rows is personal and unique work that draws on the two musicians’ various influences to build a series of compelling conversations. It is gratifyingly provocative, charmingly accessible and another high point in the careers of both Jackson and Adasiewicz.

—Hrayr Attarian

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