Jeb Bishop Trio
Velvet Lounge; Thu 19
It’s been nearly a decade since Jeb Bishop dropped a disc as a leader, so it’s a thrill to hear the local trombonist again at the helm. The new 2009 finds the expert improviser anchored by a fresh rhythm section, too, bringing on the well-weathered pair of bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly.
Though the 47-year-old North Side fixture is just now dropping a new set of tunes on us, he hasn’t been inactive. The North Carolina native made his bones with Ken Vandermark throughout the ’90s, and he’s kept plenty busy since bowing out of Vandermark’s flagship quintet in 2005. Sideman stints with the likes of mighty avant-blower Peter Brötzmann, Rob Mazurek’s extraterrestrial Exploding Star Orchestra and burning local combo Engines speak to the brassman’s ability.
Bishop’s further established himself as a preeminent force in jazz with his namesake vehicle. That much is clear on his latest romp. Roebke and Rosaly sparkle on percolating postbop like the head-bobbin’ album-opener “900” and the easy-swinging “Awomblyin’.” There’s no other player on the front line, leaving the spotlight squarely on Bishop’s swooning figures and chirping abstractions. The woozy wahs spilling out of his plunger-muted horn on “Full English” call to mind a Peanuts teacher after a few too many. Produced in tandem with contemporary ’bone thug Jeff Albert, the new disc boasts audio clarity that puts you inches from the live unit. Of course, this in-the-flesh release gig is where to really watch the trio take to freebop flight.