Circle the Path - review by Ken Waxman
Ken Waxman for CODA, issue 334, published July 20, 2007
Not a north-of-the-49th-parallel variant of the FAB trio despite
identical instrumentation and the participation of that band's bassist,
American Joe Fonda, ZMF forges its own identity. That's because its
other members' influences are vastly different from those of FAB's
jazz-saturated fiddler and drummer.
Vancouver violinist Jesse Zubot brings supple strategies and techniques derived from acoustic folk and ethic music plus his interactions with such free musicians as clarinetist François Houle to Circle The Path, while Toronto drummer Jean Martin's tranquil accenting owes much to the restraint derived from his stint in the vocal-instrumental combo Chelsea Bridge and duo with vocalist Christine Duncan. Reassuringly, Fonda's bedrock jazz improvising with FAB's Billy Bang and Barry Altschul plus his tenure with Anthony Braxton's ever-changing ensembles foreshadowed the roots and experimental sides of his playing exhibited here.
Upfront, the two string-slingers combine to expose various arco possibilities, while Martin's beat is sensed more than felt. On "Next Step" for instance, Zubot's double- and triple-stopping takes on gypsy violin arch and echo, as Fonda somehow transforms the highest pitches of his strings into mandolin-like plucks. Meanwhile the interaction on nine-minute "#135" is reminiscent of the Revolutionary Ensemble's 1970s cohesion, with the bassist's thick, sluicing pops, the drummer's clattering rolls and the violinist channeling Leroy Jenkins. His sharp tremolo lines and chromatic pizzicato output includes distinctive stop-and-start string scratching.
Finally, "Slow Blues" confirms ZMF's advanced take on the jazz tradition, with Zubot's stuttering arpeggios and staccato stops extending Fonda's thumping time-keeping and Martin's backbeat slaps.
Copyright © 2007 Ken Waxman.
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- Gebhard Ullmann: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet;
- Michael Jefry Stevens: piano;
- Joe Fonda: bass;
- George Schuller: drums, percussion.