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MUSIC REVIEW BY Bill Donaldson, Cadence


Following up on its previous album, Micro Temporal Infundibula, Kronomorfic remains consistent in its adventures in polymetric concepts, and one suspects that concomitant differing - but not conflicting - metrical phrases will remain its signature quality on future albums. Fifty-seven years ago, jazz listeners were enraptured by Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," an eventually mainstream recording in five-four - not to mention also by "Blue Rondo á la Turk" and "Unsquare Dance," among other compositions of unconventional meters - from the Time Out and Time Further Out album series. However, Kronomorfic's style is closer to the freer rhythms of Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch, down to its instrumentation of sax and trumpet over vibes, bass and drums (although David Borgo and Paul Pellegrin's group adds guitar and occasional guest musicians as well). Kronomorfic's new album, Entangled, establishes its own identity, separate from others', by including exclusively pieces that assign separate
meters to the musicians, while drummer Pellegrin combines the metrical strands into a reconciling mesh that, in the end, attracts the listener with its imaginative intensity. While this technique may seem to be compositionally limiting due to its notated metrical phrases, on the contrary, it frees the musicians to develop their own improvisational pathways, leaving the tracks' overall impressions to Pellegrin's stirring rhythmic mixtures in much the same way that clavé creates excitement by its three-against-four tension. And so, as a soloist's ideas are influenced by different simultaneous meters, the improvisational possibilities are expanded. While Kronomorfic's musicians negotiate their ways through, and actually revel in, the album's constantly shifting and on-the-surface conflicting tricky meters, their listeners can sit back and enjoy the result - the exceptional solos, the joyous acceptance of challenge - without at the same time analyzing, and perhaps being baffled by, the compositional methods, which are essential to their creation, but are irrelevant to their enjoyment. The title track, a suite of three movements, contains all of the group's elements that would fascinate discerning listeners, including remarkable solos, guest musicians like bassist Mark Dresser, shifts of mood (including the clavé intimations) over the suite's twenty-minute length, sonic contrasts like saxophonist Borgo's force over vibraphonist Anthony Smith's pillowy improvisational lines and soft chords, and a concise conclusion.

Starting with the leisurely meter of 7-9-7-9-7-9 (et cetera) for its vamp by vibes, bass and drums, the first movement, "Phantom Limb," gradually grows over the repeated chords as more instruments join until Michael Dessen's trombone solo, as not-to-be-ignored as Borgo's, caps the growing build-up. The middle section, "Transmigration," evolves through several phrases. An initial meter of eleven moves into a free section and then into the most accessible phase that contains Latin references over a ninebeat meter as Emily Hay's flute adds to the apparently Cuban-influenced flair. Eventually Kronomorfic's performance, ever more impressive as the "Entangled" suite proceeds, dissolves into free bass and trombone solos before its semi-traditional jazz groove segment commences. As if it were allure to draw in the listener, or just an idea that occurs among many, the final segment, "Thought Insertions," moves into meter-less soundscaping before its complexity brings to a close this extended work of remarkable originality. Rather than being experiments in time, each of Kronomorfic's pieces not only make a statement in their own explorative ways, but also they recognize the sonic contributions of each instrument. The album's first track, "Lumpen Momentum," starts, intriguingly enough, with Anthony Smith's barely perceptible statement on glockenspiel of the eleven-beat melody, as if the seeming randomness of a wind chime contains its own meter and musical theme. Then the tune builds upon that theme with the interwoven counterpoint of Borgo on soprano sax and Ben Schachter on tenor sax over Paul Garrison's shimmering electronic effects. Similarly, "Rhizome" starts with what seems to be a conventional improvised solo, this time a two-and-a-half-minute rubato acoustic guitar lead-in by Peter Sprague. But we know that it will lead into the unconventional excursion that ensues as the melody expands in alternating patterns of nine and thirteen. It's no exaggeration to write that Kronomorfic offers its own style of music unlike any other. It continues to record distinctive music that combines listening accessibility with complexity, originality, remarkable musicianship and unpredictability.





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