Apt comparisons to Sixties Blue Note-era Hutcherson have been plentiful in press in describing both Adasiewicz’s sound and his spacious composing style which embraces freer interplay without abandoning an underlying allegiance to head-solos orthodoxy for too long. A closer cousin still might be the lesser known Walt Dickerson. Adasiewicz generates a similarly warm and luminous sonority with his mallets and makes regular use of his instrument’s motor to blur his clusters into vivid watercolor shades. The rest of the group is comparably equipped on the creative front with cornetist Josh Berman and alto saxophonist Aram Shelton putting their instruments through rigorous and rewarding pacings. Several obvious antecedents for Shelton are Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean, but his doubling on clarinet keeps the influences from hardening into calcified imitation. Berman has a full range of tonal effects at his disposal that work particularly well with the leader’s own wide chromatic palette. Bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly work in keen collusion as well, pulling together plushly supportive frameworks for the other three while still asserting themselves prominently in the mix.
Rolldown is most adept at turning a title like “Dagger” into a bluesy dirge via Shelton’s ribald clarinet and the stoic cornet of Berman, or morphing “Hide” from Thelonious Monk-style angularities into a dredged-up, mucky consistency. “Varmint” is the perfect representation of a sneaky, snide, dangerous critter, rendered in a precise, prickly, yet loose melody not all that unlike something you might have heard from the Art Ensemble of Chicago in their mid-period ECM stage.
…it’s safe to say Jason Adasiewicz has a tiger by the tail, though it also seems like he’s wrestling with alligators, two varmints he apparently has tamed.
-Michael G. Nastos