The Revolutionary Ensemble: Ism Schism
The Revolutionary Ensemble
and now ... (Pi P113)
Recorded: Brooklyn, June 18, 2004
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
The combining of European-derived classical compositional and performance techniques with what is essentially a mode of folk music (albeit one supremely sophisticated in its own right) is a big part of what's so compelling about free jazz. "Ism Schism" seems to acknowledge as much, both in title and construct. The composition itself employs triadic, nearly Mozart-ian harmony and melody as a platform for extemporization. After bowing the song-like head, bassist Sirone plays a pizzicato solo (an effective contrast, by the way), largely maintaining harmonic simplicity and making reference to the melody while engaging in all manner of energetic, free-rhythmic interplay with drummer Jerome Cooper. Violinist Leroy Jenkins joins in just over halfway through, whereupon Sirone steps a bit further outside. Jenkins is unafraid of consonance, although his drunken glissandi, bent pitches, and non-tonal embellishments are a long way from anything Wolfgang Amadeus might have envisioned possible. When melding classical and jazz, free jazz musicians frequently invoke a post-Schoenberg-ian language. The Revolutionary Ensemble's unusual adoption of a pre-Romantic influence—enhanced by the soul and grit that is their artistic birthright—makes for a happy change of pace.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey