Hopscotch records

Joshua Smith, saxophones; Jeremy Bleich, bass; Joe Tomino, drums; with Cuong Vu, trumpet.

Birth is part of the NYC Downtown scene, and as such, their music shows a wide influence of styles from hip hop/drum-n-bass, to avant-garde, to ethnic musics. Right out of the gate the trio bursts into "Seek." The rhythms are jagged with angular drums and bubbling bass. Drummer Tomino is the driving force here. He has that drums-as-collage edge of Paul Lytton or that organic tribal sense of Milford Graves. "Smile" opens with Bleich's deliciously fat bass playing a long, slow line that Tomino and Smith play off of and around. There are staccato bursts of sound and unison stops that the trio maneuvers through, showing their tightness.

"The Round One" features guest trumpeter Cuong Vu. The sax/trumpet combination works well with Birth's sound. Vu adds another dimension to things and heats it up with his playing. The music here is very in-your-face with it's edge and drive. "Untitled r d" is a slow dirge like tune that is driven by Bleich's fat bass and Tomino's intense drumming. Vu again guests, playing a blistering solo full of grungy tones and air. Bleich's "Pakora Menorah" showcases his bass playing. He plays harmonics and modal lines on his fretless giving things a mid-Eastern flavor.

This CD is not for the faint hearted. The music is intense and driving. Highly recommended. This is a trio to watch for.

by Michael Bettine

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