Stanley Schumacher And The Music Now Ensemble – JIVE AT 5:05

Musikmacher Productions

Once the jewel case is opened and the disc removed, Stanley Schumacher’s glacial stare doesn’t exactly remind you of a jazzbo, more a heartless surgeon ready to mutilate as soon as the anaesthetic kicks in. Active for years in an accurately demarcated area where free jazz, improvisation and theatrical vocalism meet, this American trombonist releases his music autonomously on the Musikmacher imprint, Jive At 5:05 being the label’s fourth outing. This time he’s helped by three fine practitioners of atonal hobnobbing: Sabir Mateen on saxophones, clarinets and flute, Evan Lipson on string bass and Lukas Ligeti on percussion. The record presents the usual pluses and minuses – happily more of the former – of every Musikmacher recording: the vocal improvisations aren’t exactly the finest on the market (fortunately they appear on just two tracks, “Dogma Of Dogmas” and “Rhythmic Interplay”) and the human-whistle-versus-flute of “Huff And Puff” soon becomes wearisome. But the musicianship is high-calibre, capable of tackling material ranging from elegant chamber music (“Low Grade Anxiety”) to the amusingly chaotic blowout of the title track . The final “Force Field” distorts the instrumentalists’ tones into disconcertingly fuzzy infamy, and on “The Real Deal” (which lasts 7’27”) the leader manages to carry on by reiterating a lone note throughout, while the rest of the guys do their best to pair incongruity and cultivation. Overall, it’s a witty enough album with several remarkable moments and a few bloopers, perfectly in line with Schumacher’s typical output.

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