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Track listing:

1. Liftline Moguls
2. Kayte Sunrise
4. Fragile Creature
5. Smiling Eyes
6.Nature of the Beast
7. OM Flux

Chris Pasin (trumpet) 
Mark Kleinhaut (guitar) 
Wayne Hawkins (piano)
John Menegon (bass)
Dave Berger (drums)

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Chris Pasin 

Random Acts of Kindness
(Planet Arts Records)

by Tom Pierce

Recordings like trumpeter Chris Pasin’s “Random Acts of Kindness”, are definitely not simplistic or overly conventional; and require focused listening to fully appreciate. But its positive qualities made this reviewer’s job a lot easier than many CD’s. This starts with my having already enjoyed Pasin’s warm, clear and tasteful playing very often the past 4-5 years. He’s been featured in a wide range of settings, including the stirring Bopitude quintet, his own bands, Mark Kleinhaut’s quartet and Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble.

However, this CD was different from almost all of these in that it consists entirely of seven of Pasin’s own far-reaching, but captivating compositions, most of which were created earlier in his career. But, I quickly got into it. This was not only because of Pasin’s own attractively lyrical delivery, but also my familiarity with Mark Kleinhaut’s exquisitely striking guitar work and John Menegon’s masterfully compelling bass that always adds so much buoyant solidity to every band I’ve heard him supporting, including his own quartet in his own moving  2014 release, “I Remember You”.

A quick listening to the tracks could lead some to initially classify the overall approach as “impressionistic”, “deliberate” or “ECM-influenced”. And there certainly are some of those qualities, as “Random Acts of Kindness” engaging, “feelings-provoking” approach clearly is not that of a straight-ahead, “Party” record. But a careful hearing reveals that the various numbers also consistently pulsate (in a variety of tempos), have captivating melodies that are strikingly lyrical and reflect a passionately intense vibe – all of which easily and delightfully holds one’s attention.

The background for the captivating,  distinctively metered opener, “Liftline Moguls” is one  that  Pasin describes as being inspired by & evoking a type of freestyle, serpentine skiing over a course of small mounds (moguls), that I believe originated in Bavaria.  “Kayte Sunrise” is a slower, sunrise-inspired piece I found delightfully touching, with Pasin’s alluring trumpet solo providing a touch of melancholy. The groundbreaking approach of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry influenced Pasin into writing “OCDC”, skillfully introduced by the creative bass solo of John Menegon, another avant-garde aficionado, whose work is likewise also well-grounded in jazz  fundamentals. I appreciated the way the arrangement & the band’s integration effectively resolved the somewhat dissonant and/or atonal qualities, into an accessibly appealing production, even for those of us less sophisticated listeners.

Another of my personal favorites was the haunting “Fragile Creature”, that Pasin indicated was inspired by another influential Free player, Canadian  trumpeter Kenny Wheeler who sadly passed last September at 84. “Smiling Eyes” is an uplifting, smartly executed piece Pasin wrote over 30 years ago, featuring some invigorating Wayne Hawkins piano, as well as driving accents and fills by Dave Berger.  Another fine example of how the CD definitely includes swinging Post-bop is the passionately moving “Nature of the Beast”, where I especially liked the strong interplay of the two stringed instruments. Lastly, “OM Flux” interestingly presents two contrasting approaches, with the deliberate opening drone-like, Balkan influenced section leading into an Indian/Turkish/Egyptian inspired torrid section, whose opening part reminded me of Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo A La Turk”.

This was an exciting conclusion to an extremely well-thought out, substantial production that showcased many styles; and gave the listener a great deal to enjoy. Overall, the CD definitely reflects the wide range of musical experiences that Pasin and all these excellent, veteran musicians have had over the past 4+ decades, in a fresh, invigorating way.

Tom Pierce has had a burning passion for Jazz for over 50 years, initiated and fueled by seeing live in New York City, starting in the early 1960's, virtually every major artist still performing. He's been very happily living in Guilderland since 2001, as an active retiree sharing his love of music by writing online reviews for a number of web sites, preparing DVD presentations to various groups, co-Hosting Radio programs showcasing his favorite artists and busily supporting A Place for Jazz in a variety of ways.