Scott Rosenberg (1972, L.A., CA) has developed a rather diverse body of work over the years in both the composed and improvised worlds. Since 1996, on a wide variety of labels, such as Cadence Jazz, Spool, New World, Umbrella, Barely Auditable, and others, he has released a number of recordings by his various groups (Skronktet West, Chicago Creative Orchestra, solo) each designated to explore various areas of his musical interests. Red is his Jazz quartet and it is the area that, not surprisingly, most interests me. Scott's inspiration for Red came forth in November of 2000 when he began writing music for the (as yet unformed) quartet. Once Kyle Hernandez (1970, Milwaukee, WI), Tim Daisy (1976, Waukegan, IL)&Todd Margasak (1968, Philadelphia, PA) were on board, rehearsals began and in March of 2001 they recorded Owe, released on Cadence Jazz Records.
Over the years, Scott has sent me a number—and all manner—of productions, none of them seemingly haphazard or casually conceived and executed. But it remains this quartet that excites me most. When Scott inquired in 2003 about a CIMP session, it seemed to me to be a good basis for updating the state of the quartet.
The group drove up from Philadelphia, where they had spent a couple of days in rehearsal. They arrived displaying an ease of interaction that suggested, in nonmusical ways, a group spirit. A relaxed sound check followed an equally relaxed dinner and, by 7:30 p.m., we were set to begin recording. Their pre-stated plan was to do one complete take (HMNQR) and then listen to the whole. In listening to HMNQR (take 1) unfold, the group struck me as a bit cautious, even tentative. But at the same time a controlled tension seemed to be intentional, so I was unsure as to whether this was a case of still feeling out the room or a matter of style. After some verbal input and inconclusive discussion about HMNQR, we got back to playing with ADSTDR, a compelling piece that, in Todd's work, reminds me how the cornet, with its sweet pocket trumpet-like sound, is so well suited to this post Bop music. With the following piece, RRMTRRM, the reserve had vanished but not the thoughtfulness of the players, who clearly were not on autopilot. Many interesting dynamics are exposed over this piece with lines developing, coupling and uncoupling its many multidimensional facets.
After a break, the group came back funky with some urban impressionism on Califa; dig the Leadbelly reference in Todd's solo.
The first night continued in a relaxed unhurried manner. A casual and calm verbal exchange maintained itself between false starts, incomplete takes, complete takes, and retakes—all rather in contrast to the emotionallycharged music with its edgy lines. Even after 8 straight incomplete takes on TDY, the group simply conceded, in good humored acceptance, that this would not be a piece accomplished on this night. TDY's misses were also an indication that perhaps the wall had been hit. Even so, and in light of TDY's failure, Scott's response was "Let's do something serious." They went into OHS II, the last effort of the night but a good one as the seemingly invading fogginess (fatigue?) complemented the ambiance of the piece.
Three years of working together seems to have brought a comfort and receptiveness within the group that not only overrides the pitfalls and ego trip-ups that can defeat other groups, but really encourages solo risk-taking and reach within a given piece.
The next morning found Scott playing long tones into an expansive field, listening to the natural reverb as the sound bounced off the wooded ledge that partially frames the half mile long field behind the studio. Inside, warm-up and rehearsals were spirited. They opened with TDY, the piece that had proved so elusive the night before. Even with yet another incomplete take, the group didn't exhibit any tension or timidity. Even Tim's drum solo suggests a purposeful but un-tense development.
The rest of the day was spent revisiting material from the night before, including the takes of ADSTDR, A1, HMNQR, and DRR all issued here.
It's always nice to work with artists who have a clear idea of what they wantto do, the ability to do it, and the preparation to pull it off.
Robert D. Rusch - May 11, 2004