An unusual combination of instruments is heard on 7th Heaven, which is Samuel Blaser's first album as a leader and finds the Swiss jazz trombonist forming a pianoless quartet with guitarist Scott Dubois, acoustic bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. That trombone/guitar/bass/drums combination is hardly common in jazz, but it is a combination that works well for Blaser on a very cerebral album that is relevant to both post-bop and avant-garde jazz. While 7th Heaven isn't radically avant-garde, it is moderately avant-garde -- and the quartet favors an inside/outside approach that is fairly free but without being totally chaotic. Some bop snobs who dislike avant-garde jazz in general believe that free automatically means atonal and ultra-chaotic, but in fact, some avant-garde jazz recordings are more structured than others; the performances on this 57-minute CD, which was recorded in Switzerland in 2006, have some structure and aren't nearly as far to the left as, say, saxophonist Charles Gayle's defiantly atonal work. That said, 7th Heaven is not an album that goes out of its way to be accessible. "La Vache," "Sans Titre," and other tunes that Blaser composed for this release are abstract, complex, and angular; this is the type of music that simply has to be accepted on its own terms, and anyone who is looking for quick or instant gratification will not get it from 7th Heaven. But more patient listeners will find that 7th Heaven -- although not remarkable -- is a decent and worthwhile debut from Blaser. Alex Henderson, Rovi
- Free Jazz
- Modern Creative, Avant-Garde Jazz
- May 13, 2008
- Blaser Samuel
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