Tugboat Brewery - Sat. March 25, 2006
(Writer's note: I heard about this gig from Tim DuRoche and Jason DuMars at the jam at Mississippi Pizza on Tuesday, this week. Jason told me, "It's not jazz." I had to check it out. They were obviously proud of their work on this project. My goal will be to keep these reports to a couple of paragraphs in the future, but this one seems like it needs more attention to detail. I describe my experience with each piece played, and I hope some of you will seek out opportunities to stretch your musical boundaries and listen carefully to this brand of jazz called "creative music." Jim C.)
Jason DuMars - alto and tenor sax
Tim DuRoche - drums
Bob Jones - bass
2nd set begins: ‘Creative Music' form. Open free jazz, obviously based upon scored composition. First composition is "Contemplation" by McCoy Tyner. (I had to ask.) The opening passage is a very soft rhythmic statement by Tim on drums. Jason's thematic statement is stretched out, no telling when the improvisation begins . . . chromatically grounded, but free . . . insinuating the theme, not quite stating it. Lots of emotional texture, bold, bright, and raucous, then quiet and contemplative.
This section is followed by a cluster of notes repeated many times with slight variations and in different ranges, a very effective device. This makes room for the bassist to add his taste of spice to the sound before the sax again departs from the motif to crescendo and finale.
The second piece is Lonely Woman by Ornette Coleman. (This is not made clear until later.) Jason begins with multiple tones simultaneously on his alto. Very quietly reaching for an emotional context. Very effectively. No percussion to start, but his reed force is soon complemented by acoustic bassist Bob Jones with overtones and direct tones very sensitively, seemingly suggesting a theme. Two tones at once, with octave representations. Tim comes in on drums to quietly create a groove. Then Jason adds to the original motif with little interspersed asides which build into a new motif. Bass and drums carry forward the original ‘non-theme.'
The second motif is now reinforced by Jason in a new tonal base. This is very musical, and very challenging; intriguing variety of musical ideas. Wonderful playing by Jason. Then we return to the original motif or movement. Jason then begins a sequence of small conversational-sounding animal sounds. Humorous, yet inviting and engaging, these build into an exploration all over the horn in several keys at once, accompanied by bass in overtones and direct tones, and complex drum statements. Short drum solo using the whole kit, very musically, in a ‘free jazz' context.
Next we get an overt statement of Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman. I caught nothing of this theme in the last many minutes of play. Now we have a more traditional and recognizable improvisation on this theme, with lots of dynamics, strong co-ordination between the instruments. Jason has great facility and emotion in his playing, hardly breaking a sweat in the most furious passages. Dual tonalities between the sax and bowed bass suggests chords, ranging in intensity and dynamics, off theme, building to a minor key finale.
The third piece of the first set is Naima by John Coltrane. Intro on bowed bass, very rich and warm direct dual tone. Thematic statement of what seems to be a theme in a drone of two tones, while the Jason on tenor sax plays a minor key lyrical form. A strongly coordinated and rehearsed passage follows to create a well defined but free structure. (I later learned that they had never played with Bob before. Stunning level of communication. This is characteristic of the ‘creative music' genre.)
Each section is developed from fairly subdued passages to full out blowing. The next section begins with more dynamic blowing, then back to unison playing but in two or more separate tones suggesting but not stating sequences of chords, since there are no chordal instruments, piano and guitar. Very engaging.
A new section is slightly more enigmatic, still musical, though more atonal, relying less on melody, and more on emotion. A rubato form on the bass exposes the animal sounds that Jason makes conversational, very quiet and still engaging. The next section is built around a motif on bass, based upon first one then two direct tones, with the sax becoming steadily more animated rhythmically with very strong support on the drums. Now growing quite ferocious with Jason exploring several scales with detailed dynamics, like filigree. Wrapping up with quiet contemplative sequence.
The last piece of the set is Sweet Georgia Bright by Charles Lloyd. (Again, I learned this later.) More traditional ‘straight ahead' form, starting with a statement of a theme with strong walking bass line, very quickly completed. First solo -- Jason is obviously in command of both his instrument and the direction of the performance, on this one, while still relying on the great accompaniment of his band mates. He goes outside this time only enough to not be trapped by the chord changes. Bob on bass gets a real solo here, the theme being fairly open and he goes for eight or sixteen bars, beautifully. Tim returns with the theme, then a cadenza alone, then the bass and drums return in a straight ahead method, more comfortable and recognizable to this ‘fuddy duddy' modern jazz listener.
It was a very fun, enjoyable performance, extremely engaging and enigmatic. Lots of personality and joy. The young bassist Bob Jones is a very accomplished and effective player. He should be watched.
I spoke with Jason at length at the break, and he explained that he was not playing well, because of vehicle problems, etc. His day job is his instrument engraving business, which can be seen at http://www.dumarsengraving.com/. Cool website. Jason's obvious mastery of his instruments makes him seem like a fountain of music. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
Tim is a fine jazz writer, and contributor to Willamette Week, the Oregonian, and other publications. His position in the Portland jazz scene is well established, and his playing is extremely complex and enjoyable. I look forward to listening more to him. Tim can be found at http://www.variousartists.org/timduroche/biography.html Tugboat Brewery is at 711 SW Ankeny Street, just West of Broadway, in downtown Portland. There is a funky atmosphere, and complete musical discretion for the musicians since there is no pay, only what they get in the tip jar. Many wonderful and cutting edge ensembles play there. Many come from the PSU program and you can often hear Mary Sue Tobin, our local sax playing, jazz composing seer, or red hot saxophonist, David Valdez. Smoking is allowed, but sometimes it's not a problem, not enough for me to stay away.
Tim DuRoche was JSO's Featured Musician of the Month March, 2006.