• courtesy of Fully Altered Media
  • Ryan Keberle

It makes sense that composer, bandleader, and trombonist Ryan Keberle keeps landing lots of work; although he’s a jazz musician first and foremost, his ears are open and his technique keeps the doors opening, whether that means touring with Sufjan Stevens or playing sessions with St. Vincent and Alicia Keys. He’s also a key figure in big bands led by Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue, but in the last few years he’s seriously stepped out on his own, creating warm small-group music that’s front-loaded with melody; there’s also plenty of harmonic movement, but his remarkable rapport with trumpeter Mike Rodriguez never lets technique get in the way of tunefulness. His recent album Into the Zone (released by Greenleaf Music, the label owned by trumpeter Dave Douglas) is the second he’s made with his quartet Catharsis (Rodriguez, bassist Jorge Roeder, and drummer Eric Doob), and the connection and degree of interplay they’ve developed is mighty impressive. The brassy front line combined with Roeder’s woody, natural tone creates a lush low-end timbre that manages to feel relatively weightless, moving with effortless agility. On much of the new record the band is joined by Chilean singer Camila Meza, who more often than not contributes wordless vocals, functioning mostly as another instrumental line meticulously enfolded into the contrapuntal architecture. For today’s 12 O’Clock Track you can check out the beautiful Keberle original “Without a Thought,” a witty title that suggests how the band reflects the notion of the album title—letting the technique and training of the musicians dissolve within an intuitive performance. Keberle will perform Wednesday night at Constellation with a Chicago version of his band: trumpeter Brad Mason, bassist Joshua Abrams, and drummer Makaya McCraven. Considering how tricky and precise the arrangements in Catharsis are, this local incarnation will have its work cut out for it.