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Lesser Lakes Trio: The Good Land (Shifting Paradigm Records)

Aug. 22, 2017
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This quietly intriguing, even enchanting Milwaukee trio seems both of the land and above it, like a cloud or a broad-limbed tree or a hovering consciousness. The group describes itself as three “sonic storytellers” on a “restless search.” These storytellers weave a web of enlightenment with melody and rhythm. Harmony is spare, recalling Ornette Coleman’s decree to liberate oneself from the “background” of chord changes, and the pop-like but serious sensibility of another contemporary trio, The Bad Plus.

The music radiates wide-eyed intelligence.  On the title tune, “The Good Land,” trumpeter Jamie Breiwick’s solo uncovers thick textures, like a spade digging soil, overturning rock and root, perhaps even an earthworm. Drummer Devin Drobka bifurcates space with rhythmic disjunction and momentum that implies plenty of life’s complexity, but at an organic level—down to the ground enough to dance with that night crawler.

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