December 2, 2012
Saxophonist Michaël Attias seldom rests on his laurels. Always aligning with a superlative support structure, each of his solo outings offer a fluctuating refresher course on routes previously navigated. With nouveau ideologies in place, Attias’ expansive cache of weaponry once again comes to the forefront. The band skirts between introspection, aggression, and fiercely driven free bop atop the ever-present avant-garde contingent. No particular slant or proposition dominates on Spun Tree, and the musicians’ intrinsic synergy cannot be understated.
On “Ghost Practice,” Matt Mitchell’s semi-classical piano intro seeds the hornists’ circular thematic statements amid punchy accents and a cyclonic mode of attack. Mesmeric and forceful, they swerve into a free form breakdown led by trumpeter Ralph Alessi, who imparts a flirtatious dialogue with Mitchell, followed by temperate reconstruction processes.
Attias’ brisk, yet calming tone launches a quietly rumbling bridge section. But he methodically surges into the red zone via precipitous squalls and serves as the antagonist, ultimately steering his cohorts full circle, where off-center melodies serve as a point of return for the soloists. Drummer Tom Rainey works on top and behind the groove as the quintet sports a shadowy presence and then bangs out the core melody for the finale.
Simply put, Attias is at the top of his game.
– Glenn Astarita