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The Art of Dying

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Album Review

Bassist Jason Ajemian equates the art of dying in a way that celebrates involvement, participation, diversity, communion and love. He is also fond of his boyhood days playing sports, baseball in particular, and thus the name of his band on this CD, "Smokeless Heat," refers to a sneaky fast pitcher who can get hitters out by subterfuge and deception rather than the high hard one. The core group of Ajemian, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman, and drummer Noritaka Tanaka base this music in a mainstream jazz foundation with free improvisation as a key condiment. Trumpeter Jamie Branch, a relatively fresh sounding player, adds more modern jazz into the mix when the group expands past a trio. Ajemian himself, a well rounded and young but experienced improviser, has taken stylistic cues from such Windy City bass icons as Malachi Favors, Marlene Rosenberg and Tatsu Aoki. His thematic ideas and mysteriously hued bass tones resonate apart from the unconventional, and at its innermost, his "art of dying" precept is rarely macabre or grief stricken. There's actually a palpable hope that is heard, strained through the depths of despair. The legitimate jazz ballad "With or Without the Universalator" leads out with Branch's rustic trumpet for a song that could have easily been plucked from the '50s, while Haldeman goes for broke on the hard bopper "Your Shirts." For hardcore fans of Ajemian these might seem out of character, but not really. More on the mystery train, "Miss O" puts Matt Schneider's guitar and the rumbling marimba of Jason Adasiewicz up front, while "U're the Guy" is closer to the free approach normally heard from Ajemian, replete with Haldeman's splattery tenor and the scattershot drumming of Tanaka. There's the sad waltz, "Sackett's Harbor," and the free floater "Ludicrous Dreams & Solar Guided Lovehandles" for contrast. "9 Car" is in a hard bop mode similar to a Sonny Rollins live at the Village Vanguard, or the John Coltrane trio sans piano. There's a juggernaut in the darkly hued "Machine Gun Operator" with Branch as the bullet clip, and the parsed sectionals from Haldeman and Branch buoyed by the whole rhythm section on "2,4,7,9" signify the sad trumped by the celebratory. The final piece is a 24-minute tenor sax/bass/drums free improv performance using varied shades, moods, dynamics, and tempos performed live on radio station WMSE-FM in Milwaukee, WI. For many, the art of dying is a vague and sycophantic concept, but Ajemian has offered a different view while also producing a quite viable musical concept,and an excellent listening experience for those of us fortunate to be alive. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Acoustic bassist Jason Ajemian is one of the members of the underground music scene in Chicago, playing a variety of creative improvised, noise, and experimental musics based in rock and jazz. He is a graduate of the William Patterson College in New Jersey, where he studied with bassist Rufus Reid and percussionist Kevin Norton. Arriving in Chicago in the fall of 2000, Ajemian embraced the then burgeoning progressive music community. Ajemian also vocalizes and utilizes electronics. His dizzying number...
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The Art of Dying, Jason Ajemian
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 29 May 2008

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