Pasa Tem­pos New al­bums from Wooden Shjips and Re­nee Rosnes

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The ti­tle track on this new al­bum by pi­anist Re­nee Rosnes was named for a 1935 en­vi­ron­men­tally themed Emily Carr paint­ing, Scorned as Tim­ber, Beloved of the Sky. On the ru­bato and pen­sive in­tro, Chris Pot­ter is plain­tive, some­times even heraldic, on so­prano sax. There is a sense of plod­ding de­ter­mi­na­tion but also sim­ple beauty. “Ele­phant Dust” opens with deep, slow pi­ano and pep­pery tenor-sax notes; the mu­sic de­vel­ops quickly into a heady group ef­fort on an in­ter­est­ing, al­most splin­tered, rhyth­mic pro­gres­sion. Pot­ter is nicely feral and Rosnes en­gages in break­neck tum­bling and climb­ing arpeg­gios and fre­netic thumb-pinky ham­mer­ings. Steve Nel­son’s vibes pro­vide a mel­lower voice, and drum­mer Lenny White and bassist Peter Washington are ex­pres­sively en­gaged through­out. Rosnes wrote “Mir­ror Im­age” for Bobby Hutch­er­son when they were both found­ing mem­bers of the SFJAZZ Col­lec­tive. The mix here is al­ter­na­tively dense and min­i­mal, ex­hibit­ing both melody and polyphony. “Rosie,” which was writ­ten by Hutch­er­son, is straight-ahead jazz, full of the leader’s beau­ti­ful and dis­tinc­tive pi­ano work. “Black Holes,” dy­namic and fast, starts with a sus­pense­ful hook, Pot­ter and Rosnes in uni­son, then builds with the leader’s re­lent­less pi­ano and an au­da­cious tenor solo. The vi­va­cious and too-short “Rhythm of the River” is a show­case for Pot­ter, here elo­quent on flute. The ac­tion on this splen­did al­bum ends with “Let the Wild Rum­pus Start” (a ti­tle bor­rowed from a Mau­rice Sen­dak quote), a real toe-tap­per, with solo spots for ev­ery mem­ber of the quin­tet. — Paul Wei­de­man

WOODEN SHJIPS V. (Thrill Jockey Records) Psychedeli­crock quartet Wooden Shjips is a band with a for­mula. Drum­mer Omar Ah­sanud­din and bassist Dusty Jer­mier lock into a groove, they layer in some key­boards and rhythm gui­tar, and front­man Ri­p­ley John­son splashes a squig­gly lead gui­tar all over it. He sings, too, in a laid-back, nasally mum­ble sim­i­lar to the War on Drugs’ Adam Gran­duciel. It’s in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to parse the lyrics, but you get the gist; the songs don’t con­vey a mes­sage so much as cre­ate a mood. In­deed, the best way to even tell the songs apart is by the drum beat, whether it’s fast and ac­com­pa­nied by a sax­o­phone skronk on “Eclipse” or trot­ting along at a gal­lop on “Red Line.” On “Star­ing at the Sun,” it am­bles along with an easy gait, in no hurry to get any­where. This is the long­est song on the al­bum, and, per­haps for that rea­son, it is also the best. John­son waits a few min­utes be­fore dip­ping his lead-gui­tarist toe in the wa­ter and when he fi­nally dives in, he doesn’t solo so much as adds bril­liant brush­strokes, tak­ing time in be­tween each one as if stop­ping to ad­mire his work. It is this pa­tience that pays off in the band’s best mo­ments, as they set­tle into a sun-dap­pled groove. When you’ve di­aled into a feel­ing this bliss­ful, you’re bet­ter off just let­ting it ride. — Robert Ker

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