Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore - After Caroline

Label: Northern Spy Records, 2018

Personnel - Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Jason Roebke: acoustic bass; Mike Pride: drums.


Chicago bass clarinetist Jason Stein has been putting a lot of effort in the command of his reed instrument, from which he unearths mind-boggling sounds ranging from innocuously undisturbed to gutturally wild. His long-running power-trio Locksmith Isidore hadn’t put a record out since 2008, but a few months ago the group released After Caroline, a versatile work where they expand and contract rhythms and textures with a broad sense of adventure.

The album opens and closes with sturdily groovy pieces. If the brawny opener, “As Many Chances As You Need”, composes a rock-imbued setting saturated with scorching lines, multiphonic cries, and altissimo squeals, then the closing title, “We Gone”, emits a raucousness in the true spirit of rockers, incorporating catchy melody over the winning rhythmic drive offered by bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride. The latter distributes resolute chops, filling the transitions with lively energy. Yet, his posture totally redirects toward textural softness on “You Taught Me How To Love”, a melodious, poised poem propelled by brushes.

Conjuring up the styles of Monk and Steve Lacy, “Ekhart Park” bounces resolutely with fragmented boppish lines and complementary drum stretches along the way, landing on a robust bass solo before the restitution of the short theme. This song feels somewhat related to Coltrane’s “26-2”, the album’s sole cover. Heavily steeped in the hard-swinging bop tradition, this celebrated number doesn’t renounce to spirited individual statements.

Strenum” and “Walden’s Thing” have little in common. Whereas the former is a purely spontaneous trio creation that feels at once minimal and abstract, the latter, tumultuous and vociferous in its narrative, is a rhythmically dense experiment written for the late saxophonist Donald Walden.

Through After Caroline, Stein and his trio mates claim a higher position within the freer side of the jazz spectrum. Their key elements are mellifluous angularity, a broad sense of groove, and the substantial thrills of the ride.

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - As Many Chances As You Need ► 06 - Walden’s Thing ► 08 - We Gone