Good Times with Michael Vlatkovich’s Tryyo
Trombonist Michael Vlatkovich has an entertaining new live album, Pershing Woman, out with his “Tryyo,” Jonathan Golove on electric cello and Damon Short on drums. For jazz improvisation, it’s exceptionally tuneful, and funky, and fun, in an energetic post-AACM, Roscoe Mitchell way. Good humor and good times abound throughout this set, and it’s contagious. It’s all about interplay: conversations, pitch-and-follow, shadowing and dynamics. Vlatkovich’s sensibility is borne out in his titles: for example, the jaunty, swinging opening track, Our Costumes Should Tell Us Who We Are and What We Think. Obviously, this could be sarcastic…or is he saying that what we wear should illustrate who we are, and inspire us to ponder certain things?
The second track, Pursued By More Past Than Future picks up the funky riffage and continues a series of variations, Golove alternating between resonant pizzicato basslines, sostenuto ambience, the occasional keening overtone or staccato flurry as Short shuffles and romps around the perimeter. His cymbal work throughout the album, whether creating nebulous, misty atmospherics or lithely accenting the quieter moments, is especially choice. Vlatkovich is the good cop here, playfully nudging the group upwards out of the lulls, firing off clusters of bluesy riffage, often adding a droll edge with a mute, or a quote, or the occasional woozy slidestep.
The best track here is Black Triangles Yellow Corn and Pink Medicine Drops – chips and salsa requiring a hit of Pepto Bismol afterward, maybe? Golove opens it with a catchy funk bassline, Vlatkovich exploring tersely overhead, Short artfully building to a crescendo that he caps off with a triumphant flourish as they take it doublespeed and then back down again.
The bouncy, syncopated Once in a Blue Moon a Decent Wolf Comes Along rides an unexpected Powerglide shift from Short into Hostages of Romance and its steady staccato. The Imponderable Hiding in Extra Large Clothing goes on for almost thirteen minutes and as expected, finally develops some menace as Golove goes up the scale with tritones – but after a point there’s nowhere to go but into comedic territory on the wings of Vlatkovich’s smirking, muted squonks. There are also a couple of warped ballads here with vividly pensive, lyrical harmonies between trombone and cello, the weirdly edgy funk of Neighborhood Beasts Let Down Their Hair and the closing track, I Let My Magic Tortoise Go, where Vlatkovich draws a quick sketch of the reptile leaping over the garden gate with a grin, dancing across the lawn, so glad to be out in the sunlight again.
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