To the unsuspecting ear, this album The Rhythm of Invention from the Wayne Wallace Quintet (plus) might seem like just another Latin-Jazz recording, but just below the surface something quite different is actually taking place. Whether you choose to read Mr Wallace’s notes before you listen to the music or not, a deeper dive will reveal what the trombonist has attempted to do – and rather successfully does one might add. As the music will tell you, according to Mr Wallace tradition is a wonderful reality. But not understanding that the inner dynamic of tradition is to innovate is a prison. And so Mr Wallace positions himself in creative conflict with age-old protocols about how the relationship between the trombone (indeed, all brass, reeds and winds) ought to work with percussion and strings. By actively throwing overboard melodic, structural and harmonic hooks that have become expressively blunted through overuse, he builds from what might – or might not – be left.
This might be more explicit – as in the song “The Rhythm of Invention” itself, with its poem recited by Akida Thomas that puts in to lyrical words what his (Mr Wallace’s) thesis is, drawing a long line between this music and right from an earlier time in the continuum, which, in turn, is espoused through the words of the inimitable Dr David Baker (who speaks) from an old interview that takes it (the inspiration for all of this music) back to the source, which is Africa. Or this thesis might unfold over the musical choruses itself. Either way, Mr Wallace seems to have conceived this exuberant hour-(or-so) long showpiece as a topographical rhythmic (and melodic and harmonic) metaphor dividing his (often) expanded ensemble into different layers or strata, whose shifting relationships evoke the massive natural and often lyrical forces that shape the planet.
Sometimes the strata stack up immensely (as on “Vámonos Pa’l Monte” and “Mi Descarga”) and at other times – especially on “So Softly” and the superb re-invention of Bix Beiderbecke’s “In a Mist” they seem to thin to the diaphanous textures that are woven into each other by the strings and the rest of the lead (trombone) and rhythm sections. But always there is a sense of returning to the same point only to discover that the view has changed in the interim. On top of these seismic musical processes Mr Wallace creates a virtuoso orchestral superstructure held together with his superb quintet and some stellar guests including violinist Dayren Santamaria, reeds and woodwinds players Mary Fettig, Masaru Koga and Melecio Magdaluyo and the wonderfully sensitive strings musicians whose rapturous details suggest the teeming life of the musical earth in all its protean variety.
Track list – 1: Vámonos Pa’l Monte; 2: Take Five; 3: All the Things You Are; 4: So What-Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise; 5: The Rhythm of Invention; 6: In a Mist; 7: El Arroyo; 8: Se Me Cayó el Veinte; 9: Atardecer Matanceco (Evening in Matanzas); 10: Mi Descarga
Personnel – Wayne Wallace: trombone; Murray Low: piano; David Belove: bass; Colin Douglas: drums and percussion; Michael Spiro: congas and percussion; with guests: Dayren Santamaria: violin (1, 8); Mary Fettig: flute, soprano and saxophones, and bass clarinet (1, 2, 5, 8, 10); Masaru Koga: tenor saxophone (5, 10); Melecio Magdaluyo: baritone saxophone (5, 10; Erik Jekabson: trumpet (5, 10); John Worley: trumpet (5, 10); Brennan Johns: bass trombone (2, 4, 7, 9); Miró Sobrer: trombone (2, 4, 7, 9); Matthew Waterman: trombone (2, 4, 7, 9); Dr David Baker: pre-recorded interview (5); Sean Weber: trombone (2, 4, 7, 9); Eugene Chuklov: violin (3, 5, 6); Niki Fukuda: violin (3, 5, 6); Maria Romero: violin (3, 5); Daniel Stein: violin (3, 5); Edith Szendrey: viola (3, 5); Rose Wollman: viola (3, 5, 6); Kelly Knox: cello (3, 5); Monica Scott: cello (3, 5, 6); Akida Thomas: spoken word (5)
Released – 2019
Label – Patois Records (PRCD023)
Runtime – 1:01:42