It continues to amaze me how much wonderful, mature, yet experimental and fresh music exists at this time, a time, ironically, when the greater public interests seem to be in retro. I listen to a trio like Chris, Briggan, and Jay and hear strong concepts and mature ideas executed with conviction. By the end of the 1990s, the improvised music world is awhirl with a corporate stampgreed flooding the market with various pabulum, be it fourth generation retro clones of ‘50s bop, the retreading of ‘70s music as “acid Jazz” or the stifling politeness of “smooth Jazz.” Yet in the midst of all this, and seemingly unconcerned with fashion and commercial flow, are a number of artists who keep their own state.
Chris Dahlgren (NYC, NY, 1961), Briggan Krauss (St. Paul, MN, 1969), and Jay Rosen (Philadelphia, PA, 1961) first began working with each other around the Spring of 1995. To the group Chris brings his compositional strength (which often reaches back into his Scandinavian roots) and a big warm inventive bass, Briggan his original sax sound and appealing skewed approach, and Jay his intuitive, always appropriate percussive fills and rhythm drive. Off the music they are relaxed, conversant, and quite altogether unassuming. There are no pretensions to anything out of the ordinary. In fact they approach this music so matter-of-factly that for a moment you might believe that this is simply part of the flow of the status quo. But the music says otherwise as it, quite nonplused, moves against the flow of the state, and does it in a most natural, unselfconscious manner.
Today, cutting edge music, music that agitates, stimulates, moves and challenges the listener, is not heralded. It’s not even really denigrated, it’s simply ignored. The positive by-product of this is that only the committed stick with it. Meanwhile, the media spotlight champions the latest quest to find out who’s more “avant” than thou and exploits music that is so hip, fashionable, or au courant that nobody dares notice its aesthetic.
The music of this trio is avant and on the edge. It is also assured and masterful. It is artistry beyond fashion. Artistry good enough to ignore.
Robert D. Rusch