Label/Year: Red Piano Records, 2017
Lineup - Hery Paz: tenor saxophone; Alec Harper: tenor saxophone; Frank Carlberg: piano; Andrew Schiller: bass; Robin Baytas: drums.
Phoenix-born Brooklyn-based bassist Andrew Schiller has a knack for modern composition and his debut album, Tied Together, Not To The Ground, a 10-song collection of inventive genius, features an ensemble top-loaded with talent. The peers that follow him are tenorists Hery Paz and Alec Harper, pianist Frank Carlberg, and drummer Robin Baytas.
Enjoying the calm waters, the quintet sets sail to explore spacious regions on “Little Shoes”. The intro, built with sax and drums and later joined by a cadenced piano pointillism, is delivered in a breathable and cyclic manner. More spontaneous rather than mechanical, Schiller’s bass solo is crafted with art, as well as Paz’s saxophone lines, whose lyricism doesn’t stick to anything you might be expecting to hear but has the capacity to surprise.
The exquisite waltzing flow of “Go Get ‘Em Tiger!” carries wry fanfare tones in the unison melodies deliver by the two-horn frontline. Soloing with swampy intensity, Harper (what an entrance!) instills all his melodic and motivic richness into a tune that also counts on Carlberg’s melodies (we can hear his voice) to entice. The pianist’s expressive gestures are also strongly felt on the contagious “Head Down, Walk”, whose title could have been ‘Head up, March’ in accordance with its actual nature.
Infusing larger doses of joyfulness, the band digs the frisky “Tink Tink” with Latin and groovy vibes, in a stylistically expansive description of a rousing scenario. In addition to Schiller and Paz’s individual statements, Baytas has here an opportunity to show his flexible drum forays. The latter shines again by the end of the revolutionary “Gluckschmerz”, in which he helps to form a powerful rhythmic epicenter together with the bassist. A collective improvisation blossoms out of this adventurous stretch, bringing an avalanche of sharp angles and protuberances created by Paz and Harper.This visceral rhythmic drive and melodic entanglement emerge again on the abstract, sparse, and uncompromised “CFBDSIR-2149” and on the title track, a deeply nostalgic ballad that refrains from agitation.
Also painted with an atmospheric glow is “One That Never Was”, whose starting point is made of acerbic bass note intervals before landing on an unknotted, stable groove that instinctively combines with the dry percussive sounds engendered by Baytas.
Between the lines, the album’s title reads only the truth. The members of this quintet are closely tied to this music whose creator provides them with an abundant freedom to create, move, and interact. Moreover, instead of being tied to the ground, they are able to fly together.
Schiller’s debut is a worthy trip and his compositions reflect the blistering state of the modern jazz.
02 – Go Get ‘Em Tiger! ► 05 – Gluckschmerz ► 07 – Head Down, Walk