CD Review | "Live In Our Time" from Thollem/DuRoche/Stjames by Alex W. Rodriguez
This recording features itinerant improvising pianist Thollem in conversation with two stalwarts of the Portland jazz and improvised music world, drummer Tim DuRoche and bassist Andre Stjames. Sadly, Stjames passed away suddenly on May 26, shortly after the album was released in March. It consists of three long tracks, each a sprawling exploration of the trio’s collective improvisational capacities.
Each of the trio members knows how to project their own sound into the collectivity. Stjames does so through a robust, melodic approach sprinkled with contrasting extended techniques. Thollem is impressionistic and responsive, even introducing some tonal implications at times. DuRoche toggles between spacious timbral explorations and frantic uptempo passages, depending on what the moment prefers. Although each has an opportunity to lead the proceedings, it is Stjames who seems to preside most prominently.
Listeners expecting a bebop groove or similar jazz reference as a foothold will be disappointed; this group eschews those signifiers even as it is indebted to their innovations. The closest thing to a recognizable groove would be the hints of a samba-like reverie that emerge in the middle of “Sunshine Pipeline.” Nonetheless, these three make the space of the improvised trio concert into their own, bringing excitement and beauty. These three project assertively and creatively, demonstrating a remarkable capacity for listening to one another into their collective sound.