by Richard B. Kamins
Alto saxophonist/composer Jacam Manricks, a native of Australia, writes complex works, filled with rhythmic challenges and melodic inventions but does so in a way that is accessible for the average listener. “Trigonometry” is his 3rd CD as a leader and first for the Posi-Tone Records label. The basic group features the solid bassist Joe Martin, pianist Gary Versace and drummer Obed Calvaire. They are augmented on several cuts by trombonist Alan Ferber and trumpeter Scott Wendholt. Pieces like “Slippery” (with its funky melody line and sweet rhythms) and “Cluster Funk” (more funk and a 3-horn front line) sit easily next to the more introspective “Mood Swing” and “Labyrinth.” The former has an melodic and rhythmic approach akin to that of David Binney and a piano solo from Versace that bears the influence of Andrew Hill. The latter, the title track of Manrick’s last CD, moves in on poly-rhythmic feet, the drummer pushing the alto line along. There’s a sweet take on Eric Dolphy’s “Miss Ann” with just sax, bass and drums. Calvaire really stands out, his dancing snare and swirling cymbal work a highlight. Manricks seems to enjoy creating pieces out of rhythmic patterns, rising atop the pulsating lines created by the rhythm on tracks such as “Sketch” and “Combat.” Great interaction with Versace and Calvaire on the latter track is really appealing.
“Trigonometry” may have been a subject that stumped many of us in school but, on this CD, Jacam Manricks and crew have created a musical course that is worth revisiting many times.