(Loyal Label)

Landline is an experiment in collectivism, each composition written in an approximation of the children’s game “Telephone.” One member of the quartet would start a piece, send it on to the next to develop, embellish, completely revise and pass along. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, Landline is on fire.

For whatever reason, the album’s strongest material is packed into its central third; the stuff on either end is a bit spottier. Opener “Michael Attias” wanders in circles; “Twelve Years” seems determined not to go anywhere; and “An Anecdote Regarding Anthony Braxton” plays like an afterthought. The A-grade material begins with “Flim Flam,” a tough swinger that alternates a slightly off-synch melody from tenorist Chet Doxas and pianist Jacob Sacks with responses from bassist Zack Lober, and continues through the affirming “Yup!,” illuminated by a beast of a piano solo. The fun part is wondering how these pieces all came together: “Crystalline” is a fragment of eerie solo piano that neither coalesces nor resolves. Did Sacks write it and the others let it be? Did someone else do the bulk of the composing? Perhaps listeners’ speculation wasn’t intended. But it becomes part of the experience, and, when the stars align, part of the enjoyment.

On Sale Now
July 2022
Sean Jones
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