Peira Records, the terrific, low-key label operated by modular synth improviser Brian Labycz, recently released two new titles, including Bascule, a bracing dual effort by drummer Tim Daisy and bass clarinetist Jason Stein. While Daisy is well-known for all-improvised recordings, Stein has generally been represented on recordings improvising on compositions, so this title shares a less documented aspect of his craft—and we should be thankful for it.
In fact, on his last recording as a leader, The Story This Time (Delmark)—a 2011 effort billed to his excellent quartet with fellow reedist Keefe Jackson, bassist Joshua Abrams, and drummer Frank Rosaly—he brought his full-blooded jazz chops to the table, blowing hard-swinging lines with a remarkably plush tone that resembled the sound of an alto saxophone. On Bascule he digs into the squawking, snorting, and burping capabilities of his unwieldy instrument, ditching the measured tone in favor of far more volatile, abrasive lines. On the album opener “Calumet,” which you can check out below, he leans into the bass clarinet’s shrill upper register, unleashing high-pitched squeals and whinnies that seem to cut right through Daisy’s metallic clatter-and-scrape, while the lengthy title track veers from flat-out energy music to coolly simmering free jazz. To be sure, it’s not all jagged and noisy: “Center Pier,” for example, is a propulsive, polyrhythmic gem with Daisy at his most multi-pronged and Stein melodically tart.