Review by Brad Walseth
It's always a pleasure to watch vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz in a live setting: His energy and enthusiasm is contagious and seems to drive whomever he is playing with to even greater heights. His appearances with Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra are perfect examples of Adasiewicz's ability to add an important and original individual element to the whole. So it was with great pleasure that I put Adasiewicz's first recording as leader, "Rolldown" into my player.
"Rolldown" not only features Adsiewicz, but a who's-who of Chicago avant garde players, including Josh Berman (Lucky 7s, Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens) on cornet, Jason Roebke (tigersmilk, Art Union Humanscape, Fred Lomberg-Holm's Valentine Trio) on bass and Frank Rosaly (Chicago Luzern Exchange, Valentine Trio, Ken Vandermark's Crisis Ensemble, Fast Citizens), on drums. Alto saxophonist Aram Shelton now lives in Oakland, CA, but still maintains his Chicago ties as a member of the Fast Citzens, as well as Adasiewicz's Rolldown group. All are noted members of the scene who have played together in various configurations, which makes for some enjoyable group improvisation.
Both Berman and Shelton provide some fine playing in intricate tandem or solo, and of course, Adasiewicz solos in his unique and highly satisfying way. The overall sound of this quintet is balanced. Songs like "Good Looking Android" and "Little Screw" move along quite nicely, driven by Roebke's supple bass and Rosaly's kinetic drumming, while "Small Potatoes" (a reference to Adasiewicz's recent experience working on a vegetable farm in Wisconsin while contemplating"his musical future?) features an almost straight ahead walking bass middle section. "Valerie" is a quiet avant ballad, while "Creep" lumbers and lurches like a drunk in a funhouse. Meanwhile "Nearby" creates a haunting atmosphere that could be soundtrack music for an unsettling dream. The album ending "Gather" (another farm reference?) is contemplative, determined and ultimately hopeful.
Fans of vibraphone and avant garde jazz music will be pleased by this interesting release, and one looks forward to more from Adasiewicz as a composer/leader in the future. Credit should be given to all of these talented young players for the engaging directions they are exploring.