Starlicker at the Chicago Cultural Center; KLANG at the Hideout | Concert preview
Vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz lights up new free-bop platters from Rob Mazurek and James Falzone.
If Jason Adasiewicz picks up more praise than most local improvisers, perhaps that’s due to his mastery of an instrument, vibraphone, that’s increasingly rare within the jazz world, and even more so outside of it. The bearded malleteer brings a casual versatility to a variety of contexts, whether in his own groups or in a supporting role. That quality shines through two strong new albums by a pair of equally keen bandleaders, the entry points for which couldn’t be more different.
Clarinetist James Falzone is the man behind KLANG, whose new Other Doors is the result of a Benny Goodman tribute commissioned for the 2009 Chicago Jazz Festival. Crisp arrangements ripple with reedy Goodman-isms on reimaginings of standards like “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” yet Falzone stresses a need to transcend the material, and does so ably on playful originals like “Angles Sing.” In fact, the Chicago native nearly risks squeezing in too many ideas, though it’s that ambition that ultimately makes this collection. Anyone doubting Adasiewicz’s glowing contribution need simply skip ahead to the simmering “Shevitz’s Dream.”
Those signature washy textures lend themselves nicely to Starlicker, a new trio from cornet man Rob Mazurek that earns its name with galaxy-sized workouts that would be an apt soundtrack for NASA were it not pulling the plug on its shuttle program. With Tortoise’s John Herndon filling the drum throne, there’s already a well-worn chemistry among the three members carried over from Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra. Pared down from that oversized ensemble, this satellite group revels in the extra elbow room, happy to kick about meteor dust on its Delmark debut, Double Demon.