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In Exchange for a Process

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Album Review

As a solo bass clarinetist, Jason Stein pretty much stands alone in his quest to explore the atonal inner workings of his instrument with no accompanists in sight. This stance as a true maverick gives Stein total freedom to play exactly how he feels, while experimenting with the wide range of tones and timbres the burly, tall woodwind possesses. Whether it is ultimately musical or not depends on your taste level, and it is indeed up to the listener to decide whether this project is enjoyable or grating. Clearly Stein is talented and chooses to exhaust the possibilities of his instrument, much like John Coltrane did in his later years when wielding the tenor saxophone. What is on this disc can be heard as pure improvisation with only a hint of thematic cues or motif-driven ideas used as a springboard. It is evident that Stein is inspired by historical icons and friends, bringing those spirits of the past into the modern creative now. Fluttery, busy, even squawky figurines are conjured "For the Sake of Edgar Pollard," "Hysterical Eric" is a playful, skittish track that could easily be performed in tribute to Eric Dolphy, while "Temporary Framing of Dr. J" might be for pro basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving in a haunted heart style. "For Ishan" contains long overtones that are inwardly active, "Murray Flurry" has to be for David Murray in its up-and-down arpeggiated scales, "Handmade Chicago" is a lower deep-end blues, and "Fiction for C.G." reflects the screeching vocal admonishment of a banshee. More concentrated overtones and the stretching of notes into microtones identifies "History Histrionics," Stein's pushed to the brink harmonic approach is virtually electronic in the patient precept of "For Peter," while a conversely softer focus tones down smeared lines and sucking sounds on "Paint by Number." The most diligent and even lyrical notes of the noble bass clarinet crop up, as "EP & Me" is rendered in a pure tonal facade. It's cliché and true to say this is not for everyone, but Solo: In Exchange for a Process is quite valid as a personal improvised statement that displays the variance or depth the bass clarinet is capable of. In the hands of Jason Stein, you are flooded with sounds that likely have never been heard before. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

In Exchange for a Process, Jason Stein
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