Daniel Rosenboom’s CD ‘Reclamation’ Reviewed by Sammy Stein

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Daniel Rosenboom’s CD ‘Reclamation’ by his quartet project ‘Burning Ghosts’ is intriguing from the start.  Daniel has received numerous awards including ones from the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, the American Composers Forum, the Meet the Composer foundation, and has been played with many great musicians on stages including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Hague Jazz Festival, Madison Square Garden, the Hammersmith Apollo and the Hollywood Bowl.

He has released several albums and in 2015 launched a quartet project, Burning Ghosts, whose debut album was released in May 2016.  Daniel plays also with his “hardcore-Balkan-jazz-rock” group PLOTZ! , his “spontaneous composition” jazz-rock group DR. MiNT, and has appeared as a featured collaborator on albums by Vinny Golia, Anthony Wilson, Harris Eisenstadt, Kubilay Üner,  Trevor Anderies, Dorian Wood, David Rosenboom, Killsonic, Got Monk? And the Industrial Jazz Group to name just a few. He has toured with Josh Groban and his recordings for film works include The BFG, Apocalypse, Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Minions, Despicable Me 2, and many more.

He also enjoys success as a classical musician and noted interpreter of modern and avant-garde music and has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Southwest Chamber Music, the Long Beach Opera, and others. Oh and he also founded, in 2014, the independent record label, Orenda Records, in an effort to promote his community of like-minded musicians in Los Angeles and beyond. Given all this, why had I not heard of him before? Lord knows but now, I have and am better for it.

About Burning Ghosts, Daniel told me, ” Burning Ghosts  but is a quartet of musicians who’ve known and worked closely with each other since the early 2000s. We came together in the summer of 2015 to record a protest album confronting issues of rampant racism, civic immorality and social injustice we saw dominating our news. Our name came from an essay “The Burning Ghosts of America” that writer John Skipp wrote for our debut album’s liner notes, as it seemed a fitting moniker for our sound and message. Using a cross-section of avant-garde jazz and experimental metal, we found a unique approach that allows us to be nimble, biting, improvisationally expressive, and groundshakingly heavy when we want to be. After some success with the debut and some exciting tour opportunities, we recorded a new set of music as an unrestrained artistic response to the current state of affairs in American politics. More than anything, it’s meant as an abstract, instrumental rallying cry for progressive people who mean to reclaim a sense of justice, mutual respect, and moral governance in our country and our world. ”

Tzadik’s description of the band and the new album is:  “A politically motivated quartet at the forefront of the jazz-metal underground featuring four of the most acclaimed musicians in the LA experimental music scene. Playing scorching instrumentals that touch on heavy metal and jazz, the music is uncompromising and intense, filled with precise rhythmic complexity and textural power. Their first release on Tzadik is an incendiary blockbuster and is destined to become an instant classic!”

Well, with those introductions ringing in my ears and after a sit down in a darkened place to clear my mind of over expectations I pressed ‘play’.

Crystal clear rapid-fire drumming starts the opening track ‘FTOF’ before the trumpet adds its own salvo and the two instruments begin a to and fro before the guitar subtly and almost sneakily works its way into the arrangement with depth provided by the bass notes. A track which changes from fast to slow, straight to counterpoint and back with alacrity. The trumpet speaks volumes and leads right the way through. Heart warming interpretation and incredulous finger speed drive the music forward. The second section is just bass, guitar and drums in full support, notably and deliriously off-kilter these three plough on without trumpet for a section until it rejoins them, emphasising and driving the music ever onwards. An excellent, rich opener.   ‘Harbinger’ is introduced by treacly, dark bass over which the guitar chords scream with percussive back up before the trumpet sears across the top and almost a rock track develops, eventually, everyone adding their expressive, delirious input, yet all under complete control, even the dip-down at the end.

‘The War Machine’ sets up a militaristic beat over which the trumpet sings and sighs like some phantom for a while before the theme is developed under which the bass and guitar create a network of support , whilst the drums ebb and flow.  Again, there is that nod to rock coming in with the use of chords and cymbals the driving, thrusting beat pulls at the heart strings and there is a lovely section with trumpet soaring over off-beat drums which creates an almost melancholy as the track fades. ‘Radicles’ is noisy, busy at the start, superbly off-set by a sudden cessation of activity whilst the trumpet works its magic – and it is magic here.  A salsy beat, thrown off course by radical guitar works wonders under the steady, smooth playing of the trumpet. A bass solo over the percussion is interpretive and effective. A swingy section, then a slight descent into maelstrom before it gets almost too busy for the ear to hear. A multi-layered, textural track with some searing trumpet playing and there is always that slightly off-the mark beat working through the entire track – lovely. The ending is almost Black Sabbath!!

‘ Betrayal’, ‘Gaslight’, ‘Catalyst’, ‘Zero Hour’ and ‘Revolution flow like a suite – and this is fully intended- ‘Betrayal’ opens like a harbinger of doom, all sultry, melancholy. This track is undemanding so the imagination searches for meaning and the percussive elements feed this. I ended up with pictures of war torn fields, derelict and forlorn but every listener will pick up different elements and find their minds does its own thing.  Until the last section that is when we suddenly we have a rhythmic beat and a trumpet sashaying over the top, showing off and the track verges on a swing.

Then we build and build until the trumpet soars out its song and it finishes with a structured bass solo. ‘Gaslight’ is short and sweet developed first from simple walking bass that diverges into rapid, scales, slow interludes, fast thrumming and a bit of a bass panic attack at one point. You can’t tear your ears away – magic. ‘Catalyst’ feels like a progression on form ‘Gaslight ‘ bass led, percussively intricate and then the wonderful electric baritone guitar joins until the track becomes a rocky little journey with trilling trumpet flying away over the top and across the linked chords. Clever arranging and very successful in maintaining attention.  Varying tempos around jumped chords make this rather special in the last third.  Like it. ‘Zero Hour’ is atmospheric with tinkling percussion, vibrato and bowed bass and trumpet which talks to itself and the listener in little yaps, gasps and trickles of conversation like it is trying to tell a story. This is improvisation and this is very, very good – that’s it!  ‘Revolution’ is Rocky, yet it is jazz, yet it is a ballad. Short, sweet and uplifting with its diverse use of all the musicians, complete with singing guitar, this makes a good closure and is fun and trickily arranged but delivered in such a way it feels easy on the ears.

What is positive about this CD is the melding of the genres in a seamless, truthful and energised way. Some of the tracks end a bit abruptly as if someone just came to the end of the recording time and clicked ‘off’ but there is no contriving, the music just flows and is what it is. Boxes be damned, classifying this as jazz- rock or jazz-metal is a waste of energy. It is simply what it is, which is great music.  I had no over expectations even given the illustrious introduction from the label but I was given music which has a generosity to the ears which comes from an inherent energy and joy that is jazz music. Back to that darkened room again but this time to recover from the corkscrew of a journey that is this CD. Marvellous.

Personnel:

1. FTOF

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

2. Harbinger

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass and Electronic Effects

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

3. The War Machine

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

4. Radicals

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

5. Betrayal

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

6. Gaslight

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

7. Catalyst

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

8. Zero Hour

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

 

9. Revolution

Daniel Rosenboom – Trumpet

Jake Vossler – Electric Baritone Guitar

Richard Giddens – Upright Bass

Aaron McLendon – Drums

Direct purchase link: Burning Ghosts Reclamation

Learn more about Daniel Rosenboom

YT Video: Daniel Rosenboom Channel

Images: Daniel Rosenboom Discography

Last modified: July 15, 2018