Jeff Cosgrove - History Gets Ahead of Itself
The Free Jazz Collective 80
By Kenneth Blanchard
I have something of a history when it comes to reviewing drummer Jeff Cosgrove recordings. Back when I was blogging by my lonely self, he sent me a copy of Motian Sickness: for the love of Sarah. You can follow that link to my review. I will be so bold as to quote a bit here.
“The sound is string-heavy and, as you might expect, it is dominated by Maneri's viola and Masefield's mandolin in that order. This is dense, moody, and moving music. The real tribute to Motian here, and it is genuine and worthy of that master, is the marvelous dialogue between the musicians. This is what a Renaissance painting would be if four masters were stroking at the same time, each paying close attention to the other three.”
That was 2012. Two years later I reviewed Alternating Current, a trio with Matthew Shipp on piano and William Parker on bass.
If you pick up those two and History gets ahead of itself, you are not going to suffer from ennui this week, my friend.
History, one of the many intriguing words in the title, places this closer to the Motian album. It is an interpretation of compositions by William Parker. Now, I have a fan crush on Parker, so be advised. I think he is one of the great composers. I can scarcely imagine how difficult it was to select the final cut for this album. I won’t try to second guess Cosgrove on this one.
This is another trio, with Cosgrove on drums, Jeff Lederer on soprano saxophone, clarinet, and flute, and (drum roll, please, Jeff…) John Medeski on organ. Organ? Okay. I say: good idea.
It wasn’t hard to guess which Parker composition would be on the recording. 'O’neal’s Porch' is probably Parker’s most recognizable composition. It is rich color veins against a bluesy background; dramatic, without the least bit of compromise. I really like it. Cosgrove’s trio plays it mostly straight from the original recording, but only mostly. There is some avant-garde updraft, early on. It returns quickly to the substance. You won’t want to get distracted when Lederer and Medeski converse. The organ paints with a sponge brush, while we get deft strokes from the horn,
Cornmeal Dance loses something by abstracting from the vocals on Parker’s album. 'Gospel Flowers' is the gospel truth, in so far as jazz is truth. 'With Little Birds', the flute tells a whole’nuther story, as we say back in Arkansas.
Moon is a delicious bowl of flavor. 'Things Fall Apart', a rather timely title as I write this, is much more pensive than the previous offerings. I think here, Cosgrove’s percussion presents its most compelling genius.
This is very fine jazz. Get it, and you will be hunting for more Jeff Cosgrove.