After the monstrous Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet concert on Nov. 19, I was chatting with trumpet virtuoso Daniel Rosenboom, telling hime how much I enjoyed his work on some of Vinny Golia's latest recordings, when he alerted me to his own brand new release on the Nine Winds label, Fallen Angeles.
You might have heard Rosenboom's name already, (well, maybe not if you're reading this column), he's been on tour with pop superstar, Josh Groban, even getting a solo feature on "Broken Vow." Now he's back in LA, scratching out a living, playing music of a decidedly different calling.
As if there were any doubt, Fallen Angeles is a compelling indicator that Southern California has become a touchstone community of forward thinking improvisers.
Rosenboom's carefully constructed septet is a fascinating blend of youth and experience — and a sumptuous mix of rich sonorities as well. He has enlisted the contributions of his father David Rosenboom on piano, and his frequent employer Golia on contrabass saxophone and alto flute.
Gavin Templeton on alto saxophone and flute and Brian Walsh on bass clarinet and baritone saxophone complete the reed section, while the rhythm chairs are ably manned by the thick-toned Sam Minaie on double bass and the explosive Caleb Dolister on drums.
The disc begins with the furious fanfare of "Idealogy," where the horns weave together wickedly intricate lines and cardiac arrest pedal tones over David Rosenboom's Cecil Taylor like piano clusters. It should be noted that the senior Rosenboom served in Anthony Braxton's '80s ensembles, a definite feather in his cap, and perhaps some subliminal influence on the music here.
When the music draws down into "straight" time playing, Templeton peals off a cool-as-cucumber solo, yielding the floor to the leaders concise appeal.
"Fallen Angeles" opens with a dark piano/bass ostinato over which the winds play long, drawn textures while Rosenboom's trumpet and Templeton's alto exchange ideas. Walsh enters with a chocolaty bass clarinet turn that explores deep tones and screeching forays into the upper register.
Throughout this disc, the talents of Rosenboom the composer/arranger cannot be overstated. This melody is expansive and dramatic and it all brims with creativity. Imagine Charles Mingus or Oliver Nelson, born in the '80s and brought up on the Art Ensemble, and you get the idea.
"Confrontation" is almost more of a description than a title. The whole ensemble engages in a start/stop, push/pull dynamic that eventually yields to Minaie's fleet fingered "power-walking" over the roiling explosions of Dolister's drums. They manage to pack a lot of music into its 2:54 time frame.
"Fury" begins with Golia's gargantuan Tubax (custom made contrabass saxophone), and Minaie's double bass laying down a sinister foundation that Rosenboom and Templeton wail over. Golia takes over, and he sounds like the lead soloist in Satan's big band, or, maybe Charlie Parker on the foghorn.
From the subtone morass, Rosenboom surfaces with a tart and crystal clear exploration that spews rapid fire articulations from his abdomen into the stratosphere. Rosenboom is a supremely melodic improviser — whatever the context, he creates dynamic themes from scratch that always bear the contours of carefully written material.
David Rosenboom begins "Elation" with an elegiac piano solo, demonstrating his equal facility with inside and outside material. Suddenly it morphs into a wild, machine-like bass line that springs all of the horns into action.
The album finale, "While She Slept," is a gorgeous portrait with an aching melody — complete with a compelling "hook," it's the kind of piece so universal, it should appeal to fans of Groban and Golia, or any other human being with ears and a heart.
Fallen Angeles is that rare mix of uncompromising material that is somehow completely accessible. Seek it out — it's highly recommended.
Pictured: Daniel Rosenboom *Image from danielrosenboom.com