Josh Roseman Unit
Treats for the Nightwalker
“What Terrans call jazz,” read the liner notes of this CD, “is an expression of sound that emanates from an unknown planet galaxies away, a spirit world inhabited by the souls of black extraterrestrials who communicate through pure vibrational consciousness. This sound is an intuitive feeling encoded in our DNA by beings whose duty it is to create and disseminate life, love and compassion across dimensions.” And so it continues, in this visionary sci-fi tone, for nigh on two pages. Whatever happened to a few simple thank-you’s and a brief third-party critical analysis of the music?
Ironic or not, it’s best to skip this bombast and head straight to the disc. Treats for the Nightwalker is Roseman’s second solo effort and a delightful, down ‘n’ dirty melee of styles — though arguably not as bold or eclectic as the trombonist’s 2002 debut, Cherry, which featured jazz interpretations of Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and Elvis — concentrating on effervescent, feel-good funk. Roseman composed all but two of the nine tracks (organist Peter Apfelbaum steals the opening “Organ Invocation,” and Bacharach and David get their homage on “Long Day, Short Night”), wearing more than a few of his influences on his sleeve. It won’t be hard to spot where M-BASE, Sun Ra, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and perhaps even P-Funk have shaped Roseman’s sound.
Unlike Roseman’s live act, the studio band is huge, and the leader lets no instrument go unused. “Are You There” capitalizes on Billy Kilson’s meticulous groove-laden drumming, Daniel Moreno’s percussion and Ben Percowsky’s “syncussion,” not to mention a string quartet, occasional interstellar effects and an electric trombone solo. This hangs off the crumbling precipice of overkill, but Roseman and his crew don’t allow the track to succumb to the weight of its many performers. Another flirtation with potential disaster is “Sedate Remix.” One might mistake it for dentist’s office jazz at the outset. Then Roseman and his fifteen-strong ensemble begin to spin individual threads that cleverly warp the central theme. Myron Walden’s alto sax solo here verges on the orgiastic. All this isn’t to suggest that Roseman merely supervises. His fat, warm, assertive sound comes across on “LDSN 2.0,” as long as your ears aren’t too tangled up in Patrice Blanchard’s frenetic bassline. The only drawback to this is that there can often be a bit too much going on. Ideas are crammed together like Tokyo subway commuters during rush hour. The crescendo culminating in the whinny of the guitar on the title track is a good example of when things go slightly awry.
Long recognized for his work as a sideman with Dave Douglas, Don Byron, Charlie Hunter and Dave Holland, Roseman solidifies his reputation as a bandleader and composer in his own right with this album. His creative enthusiasm — no major flaw — gets him into a muddle at rare moments on Treats for the Nightwalker, but Roseman is still responsible for crafting some of the finest progressive jazz on the current scene. This is an album for the merely curious as well as the veteran listener.