Thursday, June 15, 2006

André Canniere Group - As Of Yet

As Of YetAs Of Yet is trumpeter André Canniere's debut. Four studio cuts are complemented by (and, in two cases, overlap with) three live recordings. The inclusion of the latter is a good thing, as they yield a rawer view of the band (and not only because of the cavernous sound quality) and a better take on the title track: the studio version of "As Of Yet" is rather dry and inexpressive, but live, timbral nuances give it expressiveness and the particularly punchy rhythm section gives it lift.

Canniere's at his best as composer and arranger: long melodies that unfurl majestically before suddenly flaring up and melancholy ballads both sit easily on top of often complex rhythmic and harmonic patterns. As a writer, Canniere's melodic sense is highly informed by contemporary rock and pop, so a downcast ballad like "The Rest" has as least as much in common melodically with quiet indie-rock as with the traditional jazz ballad. This sounds natural: the sound of a generation that's been developing, on both sides of the Atlantic, since the late '90s.

There's an excellent rapport between bassist Ike Sturm and drummer Ted Poor, which sets the basis for a context that seamlessly blends jazz, rock and pop rhythmic feels while balancing extensive arrangements with spontaneous decision-making. The extended groove that opens the live version of "Accelerated Decrepitude" is a good example of how well the pair works together.

The trumpeter is conspicuously generous with solo space but guides his soloists with an unoppressive invisible hand. As the band digs in more aggressively and buoyantly outside the recording studio, the tunes' building blocks inspire rather than hinder, which is what jazz composer/arrangers are supposed to do, right? On the studio version of "Accelerated Decrepitude," the best of the leader's five compositions, Canniere fluidly swaggers through the changes before saxophonist Josh Rutner (both Rutner and Poor are members of the Respect Sextet) leisurely turns one of the tune's riffs inside out. Rutner mines the same idea on the live version, but this time shares the work with Sturm and guitarist Ryan Ferreira.

Ferreira, showcased on "As Of Yet" and "The Rest," is a strikingly patient improviser who extends the compositions in fitting yet unexpected ways: fragmented, fairly static phrases only slowly expand their note and rhythmic choices. For example, on the live version of "As Of Yet," he's happy to engage the groove solely with oddly-paced block chords.