Russ Lossing, Metamorphism Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Russ Lossing is a jazz pianist that has been in the New York jazz scene since 1986 and has played with the Paul Motian Quintet for over twelve years. Lossing has composed over 400 works and is in specialized demand as a world-class jazz pianist and improviser. His record catalog boasts eighteen albums as a leader, and as a sideman, he is featured on over 50 albums. Lossing has 5 CDs as a leader on the storied Swiss avant-garde label HatHut Records and releases on the Sunnyside, Cleanfeed, Fresh Sound, Double Time, Steeplechase, and OmniTone labels, as well as his own label Aqua Piazza Records. Lossing is now releasing Metamorphism on Sunnyside Records containing eight original compositions. The ensemble is Lossing on piano; Loren Stillman on alto and soprano saxophone; John Hébert on bass; and Michael Sarin on drums.
“Sojourn” explores the ensembles connections in dramatic song form and melody. Lossing wrote each of the compositions based around the players’ interplay, and “Sojourn” has that in spades. Lossing exercises his melody writing before the many layers of interaction in the solo sections begin. The ensemble understanding and listening to each is the entertaining aspect of the track. Stillman’s playing is inspired, and Lossing’s interaction with Sarin is conversational.
“Canto 24” incorporates all the experiences of the entire ensemble performing an aspect of the melody. The artist deeply listens and tune in to the music’s flow, taking their time to build each solo. Stillman is clearly aware of the ways in which sound has a physical effect, as well as the many sounds the saxophone can produce. Lossing’s interactions with Stillman along the way is creative in its stuttering beats and stretches Stillman to significant impact. Lossing’s solo takes on the same shape; building methodically to a climax. His creation is almost philosophical as he creates sounds of vowels and consonants to convey his melodies, changes, and construction of gestures.
Metamorphism is a force of tipping the scale to favor ensemble interactive moments that really take us on a meaningful musical journey. Though it may be part of Lossing’s argument of improvisation’s nature, evoked through this skilled ensemble of transportive listening and pliable playing, the whole album feels like it fully reached into new jazz depths.
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