Aaron Leaney 3 (Socan, 2008) ***a1/2 (out of 4)
Aaron Leaney is a young Canadian saxophonist, joined on this trio outing by Thom Golub on bass and Chris Dadge on drums and electronics, and they are more than worth listening to. The music moves hesitatingly between composition with defined melodies and structure on the one hand and full freedom on the other. The music is free in nature, but in a sensitive, lyrical manner.
The first track is a nice example of this, with a kind of joyful melody and great exploration of the theme. The second track, “Until The End”, is my favorite, a slow and dark piece, with a repetitive bass line, over which Leaney plays sensitive and beautiful sax phrases, with bird-like electronic sounds from Dadge, giving the whole an extra dimension, and the sax slowly expands on the tune while keeping the dark focus, with the arco bass playing offering a great variation in the long piece. Despite its title “Still Water”, the third track is more uptempo, with enthusiastic, energetic and angular drumming by Dadge, offering Leaney the chance to unleash more power than on the other tracks, with the drummer himself playing up a storm, until the bass brings peace and calm, temporarily that is, because the tension increases again. The last track starts with unison arco bass and sax, for a repetive intro, which breaks open into a singing then halting melody, with gradual building up the tension and the energy again, without really breaking loose.
These are three musicians with great skills and promise. They are clearly evolving towards creating their own voice and should be better known. Technically and musically there is no reason why they shouldn't be.