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Jazz review: Daniel Rosenboom Septet, Slumgum at Royal/T

December 8, 2011 |  2:35 pm

The Daniel Rosenboom Septet
Guys with spectacles and 1889 Van Gogh beards playing jazz in an art gallery: The Daniel Rosenboom Septet (plus two) and Slumgum looked right at home at Culver City's Royal/T on Wednesday.

Sharing an open, coloristic aesthetic born from common roots in CalArts' music school, these two younger groups demonstrated how a palette squeezed from multiple genres and cultures is obscuring jazz's always-changing foundations.

The quartet Slumgum (a term for beehive residue) opened with a relaxed set keynoted by Jon Armstrong's warm tenor sax. The drums and bass of Trevor Anderies and Dave Tranchina switched from pushy groove to breezy scatter while Rory Cowal, on a house piano wildly cartooned by East Village artist Kenny Scharf, hinted at Vienna and India, Spain and Coltrane.

Slumgum switched moods -- pastoral, cheerful, meditative, romantic -- yet retained a casual group identity formed by years of collaboration, and maintained a web-like hold on the audience. It could play anywhere.

Slumgum performs at Royal/T
Trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom, just off the road with singer-songwriter Josh Groban, said the experience spurred him toward new slants. So he expanded his usual septet to include singer Lindsay Claire (his sister) and guitarist Alex Noice, and tilted his intellectual canvas toward grabbier expressions.

With Armstrong and Cowal onboard, Rosenboom conducted with his left hand while fingering trumpet, piccolo trumpet or flugelhorn with his right. He showed a special flair for Spanish forms, notably bravura flamenco flourishes and an extended tango grounded on bassist Hamilton Price's insistent two-note platform. Miles Davis, whose ghost lingered throughout, would have approved.

Despite a three-man sax section, though, Rosenboom's harmonic arrangements owed less to the opulent Miles Davis-Gil Evans tradition than to a Californian openness and linearity exemplified by his take on Billy Strayhorn's barfly tone poem "Lush Life," essayed with austere clarity by Claire, who otherwise sang violin-like sustained parts.

 The versatile Noice conjured sci-fi electronics or, on the closing "Burn" (not the Deep Purple grinder), John McLaughlin-style spiels and heavy riffs to augment the song's Led Zeppelin-Edgar Winter vibe.

 This may have been the last Royal/T music event booked by Angel City Arts promoter Rocco Somazzi, who's setting up shop in Oakland. Despite regular returns, he'll be missed here.

-- Greg Burk

Photos, from top: The Daniel Rosenboom Septet performs at Royal/T in Culver City, from left: Rory Cowal, Hamilton Price, Matt Mayhall, Daniel Rosenboom, Gavin Templeton, Jon Armstrong, Brian Walsh.

Slumgum performs at Royal/T in Culver City, from left: Rory Cowal, Dave Tranchina, Trevor Anderies, Jon Armstrong.

 Credit: Adeline Newmann.