Trumpeter Brian Groder and pianist Burton Greene are veterans of New York’s progressive, free jazz scene, so it’s no surprise that the duo’s latest work, Groder & Greene, is a masterful example of the 20th century avant-garde jazz in which they were bred. As with many totally improvised, “out” recordings, it’s often best to sit back, turn off your brain, let the cacophony come to you, and absorb the constructive and destructive interference of sounds. Album-opener “Landfall” is the most accessible track on the Groder & Greene. It begins with a silky bass groove played over fairly staid bebop drum and piano parts and gradually morphs (some might say “devolves”) into a maddening, improvised confluence of sonic textures: screeching trumpet and saxophone, chaotic keyboard lines, and spastic drumming. The song exemplifies the considerable talents of Groder, Greene, and their excellent accompanists: bassist Adam Lane, drummer Ray Sage, and saxophonist Rob Brown. Their command of their instruments plus the language of music and the jazz idiom in particular allows them to take a (semi) traditional jazz progression and deconstruct it in real time, using only their ears as guides.
The remaining tracks on Groder & Greene, while somewhat more challenging, are just as intriguing. With atonal mayhem that would sound at home on a horror-movie soundtrack, spontaneous melodies that ooze emotion, and exhilarating bursts of rhythm that drive the release, it’s a work that could only result from giving world-class musicians the total freedom to communicate with one another musically. Greene and Groder should be commended for fostering such uninhibited communication.