|Bassist Ajemian and his fellow Smokeless Heat members, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman, and drummer Noritaka Tanaka, get serious about human mortality in this philosophically titled CD, The Art of Dying.
The 15 tracks and their harmonies and melodies span hard bop, free bop, and modal styles; and their composed and improvised moments are full of almost equal parts stark urban energy, questioning, liberation, space, and melancholy.
But with Jaimie Branch's trumpet, Matt Schneider's guitar, and vibist Jason Adasiewicz added in as friends, the entire recording broadens even further into a genuine and searching, creative musical take on life.
Front and centre, it's Haldeman's brusque and flowing tenor that states themes in unison with Jaime Branch who plays a breathy and enjoyable almost off-handish trumpet. Meanwhile, we enjoyed equally the brief tracks like 2, 3, 4, 7, and 9 that functioned as simple bridges between longer sound passages.
The last track, Track 15, is a recording of an outing by the previously mentioned tenor/bass/drums of Smokeless Heat and was recorded by WMSE Radio in Milwaukee. Live. It's so appropriate.
For 23 minutes and 54 seconds, Haldeman's abstract and blues-rooted voice is supported by Tanaka's scintillating brush patterns and Ajemian's high pizzicato bass lines, lines that kept suggesting ever new moods and new directions.
by David Fujino October 2008
1. With or Without the Universalator (Birdie's Dream) [6:09]
2. The [0:13] 3. Your Shirts [2:50] 4. Art [0:17]
5. Miss O [4:02] 6. 9 Car [1:26] 7. Of [0:13]
8. U're the Guy (Keith Wood) [5:31] 9. Dying [0:22] 10. Sackett's Harbour [4:09]
11. Ludicrous Dreams and Solar Guided Lovehandles [1:35]
12. Machine Gun Operator [4:03] 13. Manisa Lynn [5:12] 14. 188.8.131.52 [1:01]
15. Smokeless Heat Live on WMSE, Milwaukee [23:54]
Recorded May 30, 2006, and July 46, 2007, in Chicago