Jazz CD Reviews

John Goldsby with Jacob Duncan and Jason Tiemann – The Innkeeper’s Gun – Bass Lion

On their sax/bass/drums album, The Innkeeper’s Gun, John Goldsby, Jacob Duncan and Jason Tiemann give European-slanted jazz an adventurous American articulation.

Published on June 9, 2010

John Goldsby with Jacob Duncan and Jason Tiemann – The Innkeeper’s Gun – Bass Lion

John Goldsby with Jacob Duncan and Jason Tiemann – The Innkeeper’s Gun – Bass Lion BLM008, 55:28 ****:

(John Goldsby – doublebass; Jacob Duncan – alto saxophone; Jason Tiemann – drums)

On the pianoless trio project, The Innkeeper’s Gun, there are three Js plus three Js. The first set of Js is double bassist John Goldsby, alto saxophonist Jacob Duncan and drummer Jason Tiemann, informally known as The Nachbar Trio. The other three Js represent the music: a jazz jaunt with juxtaposition.

Three years ago Duncan, Tiemann and Goldsby played their initial gig together at Louisville, Kentucky’s Nachbar nightclub, where they created slightly moody modern jazz with whispers of funk and hip-hop: European-tinted jazz with an American edge. The trio gained a wider audience through European touring, where Goldsby was already known: he spent more than a decade in New York City before moving to Germany in 1994. His credits contain releases by Abdullah Ibrahim, Joe Lovano, Maceo Parker and others.

The 55-minute outing includes four Duncan pieces, three Goldsby compositions and a reshaped cut based on a current dance/pop song. The trio begins with puckishly titled “Jim Henson,” which features a sturdy bass motif and is highlighted by Duncan’s serpentine sax that demonstrates his authoritative way of putting phrases behind the beat. While the tune has a restful lilt, Tiemann’s shifting percussion and Duncan’s subtle changes provide a steady push and pull.

From there, things stay interesting. Prankish “Ligeti Split” has a twisting theme with contoured Ornette Coleman-like counterpoint and unhindered rhythm vitalized by Tiemann’s assured cymbal and bass drum interplay. Duncan keeps busy with David Murray-esque bursts of free jazz with gospel traces while Goldsby develops circling bass figures that use available space and textures. Brisk “Never Come Back to Me” reaches to the past to Charlie Parker for inspiration. Duncan is all momentum and punctuated expression, Tiemann renders an Art Blakey-ish drumming display and Goldsby’s arco solo echoes one hero, Paul Chambers, while his plucking exemplifies another, Oscar Pettiford.

A knockout sure to surprise listeners is an interpretation of Lady Gaga’s Europop hit, “Paparazzi,” peeled of Gaga’s gaudiness and turned into artistic abundance. Goldsby and Tiemann contribute a light reggae pulse, Goldsby dispenses what amounts to an advance course in bass improvisation and Duncan furnishes a solo that explores the melody’s nuances. Fulfilling the trio’s idea of one for all and all for one, Tiemann takes the last solo to reveal an impressive use of rhythmic space and groove.

Intricate time signatures are another trio hallmark and the closer “Juan in the Basement” is an excellent example that has a spirited Afro-Cuban appeal which disguises the piece’s 15/4 design. Sauntering bass, head-nodding drums and throbbing sax prove a complex beat can work side by side with an amiable melody.

The production and engineering rate highly. Each musician is up-front and centered cleanly and clearly: Tiemann’s touch on cymbals is never lost, Duncan’s sax is bright when needed but his occasional shrill moments have equal footing and Goldsby’s bass (arco and otherwise) is finely executed. The result is a live feeling, as if everything was done in a club setting rather than a studio’s sometimes dry environment.

1. Jim Henson
2. Ligeti Split
3. Paparazzi
4. More Than Something
5. The Innkeeper’s Gun
6. Never Come Back to Me
7. Neda
8. Juan in the Basement

— Doug Simpson

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