Geometry of Caves by Tomeka Reid / Kyoko Kitamura / Taylor Ho Bynum / Joe Morris.
Label Website: Geometry of Caves
I’m always a bit wary about Jazz and Improvised groups that include a vocalist.
In most cases, having a “Jazz Vocalist” immediately means that the rest of the band becomes accompaniment.
Rarely does a vocalist pull their own weight in an ensemble in the same way a bassist, drummer, or pianist does.
The members of the rhythm section have to know the guts of the song, inside out, starting with the chords.
The vocalist, or the saxophonist, often knows the melody, and, well, that’s about it.
Their solos are often no more than variation on the themes of the melody. I’ve known players, and sometimes done this myself, who solo just by picking notes from the melody to jump between.
However, it’s no small thing to be able to sing, or play, a melody expressively, with feeling, and honesty. And the weight that the front person carries for the band is different than the weight that the drummer or bassist carries.
Anyway, on Geometry of Caves the vocalist, Kyoko Kitamura, chooses a more interesting path.
She wields her voice, wordlessly, more as an instrument in the ensemble, than as the featured element of the band.
Not just Kitamura, but all the players, (Tomeka Reid on cello, Morris on acoustic guitar, and Ho Bynum on sundry brass instruments,) on Geometry of Caves seem to view it as a cooperative enterprise.
More often than not, the album is a sort of twirling combination and recombination of duets and trios, rather than the “everyone blows at once” style of freedom.
I once took a workshop with Ben Goldberg where he talked almost more about NOT playing, or consciously “playing” your silence with intent, rather than playing. Leaving space in the music.
I feel like this album is a particularly good representation of that sort of ethos.
And it feels completely free, yet not as overwhelming as a lot of the more “energy forward” style of freely improvised music. In that way, it is almost as much “freeing” for the listener, as it is free for the players.
#KyokoKitamura #TomekaReid #TaylorHoBynum #JoeMorris #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #GeometryOfCaves