From the opening notes of I'm In, trombonist, composer, bandleader Joe Fiedler, bassist Rob Jost and drummer Michael Sarin make it clear that this is going to be an adventurous, imaginative, funky and fun listen. Fiedler's new recording, the fourth from his trio, and the second album on his label, Multiphonics Music, presents a departure from his previous trio sessions, as Fiedler set out to play tunes with more traditional jazz forms, and that possessed more blues elements. With I'm In Fiedler has once again used his curious mind and explorer's heart to great advantage, finding brilliant new approaches on his horn, and new heights of mastery with his composer's pen.
I'm In follows Fiedler's highly acclaimed trio recordings, Plays The Music of Albert Mangelsdorff, The Crab and Sacred Chrome Orb, so it is an album that has a lot to live up to; and it delivers brilliantly on many levels. The repertoire is as perfectly balanced as a culinary masterpiece, with just the right amount of Latin tunes ("Erstwhile", "In Walked Cleo" - written for his daughter), funky explorations ("Completely 'Peccable"), swing ("I'm In"), and more than a dash of free improvisation for good measure ("Moving In Silence").
I'm In also provided an opportunity for Fiedler to utilize, to great effect, several extended trombone techniques that he has mastered. He elaborated, "I wanted to return to my use of the plunger mute, which I really love, and to explore all of its textural properties with this trio, which is showcased on the first tune, 'Grip'. Another example is the melody to 'Erstwhile'; as I got deeper into it I thought it would be great to have the entire melody ride over a long drone. But instead of having the bass play the drone I chose to play it myself using circular breathing and having the bass play arco, doubling the sung/multiphonic melody, down an octave." Although an expert at using multiphonics, Fiedler still found ways to challenge himself on this recording. He commented, "for this album I wanted to return to some free improvisation that had been missing on some previous recordings of mine. On 'Moving In Silence' I incorporate some multiphonics to build the drama of the composition, and as it turned out what I wrote was the most challenging use of multiphonics that I have ever attempted."
Other highlights on I'm In include "The New Denizens", a Fiedler composition that incorporates two of his loves in music, free playing and Latin. Fiedler said, " I wanted to try and capture the tongue-in-cheek, yet still serious vibe that predominated many groups in the early 90's downtown scene, like the Jazz Passengers. I've always dug that. But the structure was influenced by my love of the music of Carla Bley"; "The Box", which challenged Fiedler, and sent him to the shed for a spell. He commented, "The box is the name that I gave to my little writing/practicing studio at my house. I was thinking very pianistically when writing this tune. The trouble was that once it was done I had to figure out where to breathe when playing it on the trombone. In the studio Rob and Michael commented that the melody was like overlapping horn sections from a Latin band, but with all of the parts played by me! Needless to say, this one took some time in the shed to bring to life"; and "Tensegrity", a blues with a bridge, set up amazingly with a drum intro by drummer Michael Sarin, that wraps up I'm In in a thrilling way.
More on Joe Fiedler: Few musicians possess the incredibly diverse and vast resume that trombonist/composer Joe Fiedler boasts. The perennially in-demand artist has worked with "everyone", from Wycleff Jean, Jennifer Lopez, to Celia Cruz, Ralph Irizarry, Eddie Palmieri, and from Andrew Hill, Lee Konitz, Maria Schneider, to Borah Bergman, Anthony Braxton and Cecil Taylor. He is also an active member of some of the most revered ensembles working today, including Fast 'n Bulbous - The Captain Beefheart Project, the Satoko Fujii Big Band, David Weiss and Endangered Species, the Jason Lindner Ensemble, The Mingus Band, the Ed Palermo Big Band, the Charles Tolliver Big Band and many others. Suffice it to say, it would be a challenge to meet a musician today that hasn't crossed paths on stage or in studio with Mr. Fiedler.
In addition to this bustle of activity that comes with being one of the first call trombonists in the world (his eclectic discography easily exceeds 100 recordings), Fiedler has been making his mark with a string of compelling recordings under his own name, including, Sackbut Stomp (on his own Multiphonics Music), Big Sackbut & Sacred Chrome Orb (both on the Yellow Sound Label), and Joe Fiedler Plays the Music of Albert Mangelsdorff and The Crab (both on Clean-Feed). Fiedler is also in the planning stages for a solo trombone project, and is a regular contributor to The Mingus Big Band. Fiedler's "day job" is Music Director: Arrangements (serving as arranger, orchestrator and trombonist) for Sesame Street. Over four seasons he has written more than 400 arrangements and crafted more than 4000 underscoring cues.