By Peter Margasak | Published August 2017
Saxophonist Noah Kaplan studied under the microtonal improviser Joe Maneri at the New England Conservatory of Music, and on Kaplan’s latest quartet album, he extends the legacy of his mentor.
From track to track there is a consistent sense of rumination, where every intervallic brushstroke feels like the work of a painter meticulously applying and manipulating his medium to the canvas. But that movement comes within a matrix of lines sculpted by his ensemble, which achieves a sublime level of interaction. Guitarist Joe Morris—another of Kaplan’s early teachers and a collaborator of Maneri—is an excellent partner on the frontline, his considered lines and clear tones forming ornate contrapuntal constellations with the saxophonist’s grainy patterns.
At times, such as on the opening tune “Clinamen,” the agile rhythm section of electric bassist Giacoma Merega and drummer Jason Nazary feels almost weightless, a slowly rippling organism of liquid tones and delicate cymbal patter, but on “Entzauberung” they exert a much stronger presence, with Merega unspooling ropey yet elastic lines of palpable physicality.
Cluster Swerve: Clinamen; Entzauberung; Body And Soul; Sphex; Virago (blues); Exheaval. (57:59)
Personnel: Noah Kaplan, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Joe Morris, guitar; Giacoma Merega, bass; Jason Nazary, drums, electronics.