The Rob Clearfield Quintet | The Long and Short of It

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The Long and Short of It

by The Rob Clearfield Quintet

Debut recording from the Rob Clearfield Quintet, featuring Scott Burns, John Kregor, Patrick Mulcahy and Eric Montzka.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz-Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Hunter
13:30 $1.99
2. The Long and Short of It
6:47 $0.99
3. What Are You Doing Here?
5:57 $0.99
4. Victoria Park
8:12 $0.99
5. Sitting Cross-Legged
13:53 $1.99
6. Maybe Next Time
6:21 $0.99
7. The Post-Modern Prometheus
8:04 $0.99
8. Life Imitates Life
12:09 $1.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Scott Burns-tenor saxophone
John Kregor-guitar
Rob Clearfield-piano, electric piano
Patrick Mulcahy-basses
Eric Montzka-drums, cymbals
All compositions by Rob Clearfield

Recorded July 16-17, 2012 by Anthony Gravino at Joy Ride Studios, Chicago, IL.
Mixed September 2012 by Anthony Gravino at the Drake, Chicago, IL.
Mastered by Brian Schwab on January 31, 2012, Chicago, IL.

Produced by Rob Clearfield and Anthony Gravino

CD RELEASE SHOW is Saturday, August 10, 2013 at the Green Mill. 8pm-12am.

About the Rob Clearfield Quintet:
This band was formed in the fall of 2010 for a performance at the Chicago Cultural Center. As the band has continued from there, I've tried to engage as a composer with the jazz tradition more directly than in past projects, without abandoning my rock roots. Some pieces are heavily composed, others very improvisational, but thanks to the musicians I'm fortunate enough to work with, we were able to sustain a consistent and focused group sound across these eight diverse compositions. This group features four of my favorite musicians in Chicago: Scott Burns (Chicago Jazz Orchestra), John Kregor (Patricia Barber, Grazyna Auguscik), Patrick Mulcahy (District 97) and Eric Montzka (Patricia Barber). This is our debut recording.

Press from previous recordings and performances:
“…a kind of music that’s as private and as expressive as possible. It’s a sound almost impossible to classify, where intelligence and inspiration, mediated by advanced technique, yield a music imbued with a kind of alchemy.”
-Jack Walton, South Bend Tribune

“…one of the city’s most enjoyably unpredictable players.”
-Neil Tesser, The Examiner

“Every so often there’s a new talent who sounds like bottled lightning.”
-Lou Carlozo, Christian Century



to write a review


Exciting suite-like (?) genre-bender/mixer
yet with cohesive overall band sound and performance. According to his website, since 2006 this is the fifth record young Chicagoan pianist/composer and guitarist Rob Clearfield (b. 1985) has made under his name (or associated with it); at the same time being the debut release for this particular quintet. Also note he has contributed to the music of altoist Greg Ward and (double) bassist Matt Ulery's Loom, not that I'm familiar with these two gentlemen but perhaps you are...

Three tracks are over 12-3 minutes in length:
- the opener 'hunter' alternates between being elegiac and getting rougher, with off-kilter (wurlitzer sound?) electric piano solo and John Kregor's equally extended guitar improv;
- the introspective expanses of #5 'sitting cross-legged' are off to a slow start like glacial thawing, while the elusive thematic development and long guitar exegesis resemble to a degree Lyle Mays meeting Bill Frisell (in fact, said guitarist appeared on Mays' first two records w/o Pat Metheny), in addition to having a more than suitable tenor solo in manner of the late Bob Berg's impassioned soaring;
- the concluding song #8 'life imitates life' turns out to be a Bruce Hornsby type of americana/blues w/ limping gait, playful elaboration on acoustic piano and Scott Burns' jiggin' tenor sax.

- Not as long as the other three tunes above, yet #7 'the post-modern prometheus' (8.05 min.) can be considered the sibling continuation of the aforementioned 'sitting cross-legged', offering hypnotic inroad to a stratospheric guitar solo w/ searing edge - a hat tip to Allan Holdsworth's line-games, maybe?

The rest of the set is no less memorable, including the simple yet effective two-part theme of the prog/alt rock anthem on the title track called #2 'the long and short of it', where fat tenor sax leading the melody and brisky improvisation is followed by an ascent in vein of Radiohead, w/ drummer Eric Montzka's consistently powerful contribution boosting up the proceedings. Next comes the serene jazz waltz #3 'what are you doing here?', having long sustained notes from tenor sax, some brush work and - most importantly - a compelling, nostalgic solo on upright bass from Patrick Mulcahy, who is also playing bass guitar throughout the record (#1-2, 4-5, 7).
The driving yet quirky jazz-rock of #4 'victoria park' could as well have come from altoist/composer David Binney's now-defunct Lost Tribe quintet/quartet, w/ Clearfield delivering a restless, whirling improv on electric piano; whereas #6 'maybe next time' is an agitated modernish piece propelled by thuding acoustic bass and bouncy snare beats, where yet again the bandleader proves his mettle on grand piano, being both angst-ridden and gracefully sweeping, after Scott Burns has completed his bop lines. The disc clocks at 2 seconds short of 75 minutes. Kudos for the CD's artwork using 3 paintings by one Tim Vermeulen!

Recommended not only to fans/listeners of MMW, drummer Jim Black's various projects or fellow keyboardist/composer Henry Hey's Rudder (although Clearfield cites guitarists Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel as major influence for his approach/concept, apart from classical stuff like Brahms...), but to anyone who thinks fusion/jazz-rock has still got something new or stimulating to offer in the 2010s.