Artist: Brian Groder

Date of Release: 01/01/2007

Catalogue no: LATHAM 5106-2

Label: Latham

Price: £12

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Track Listing















Diverging Orbits



Behind the Shadows 1



Behind the Shadows 2





















Tragic Magic






Water Prayer








27/04/2007 Jazz på Svenska, Sweden

This is a wondrous display of the art of improvisational music. Sam Rivers probably needs no detailed introduction -- Miles Davis's classic tour of Japan in 1964, Blue Note classics like Contours and Dimensions & Extensions, Conference of The Birds (in the Dave Holland Quartet) and Studio RivBea in the 70s, etc. Simply a 24-karat "avangardista". Rivers is today in his eighty-third year, but still blows as if he is en route to make his first record for Moserobie [a Swedish jazz label]. His regular trio, comprising the bass player Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole, swing, drive and communicate exactly as only a properly organized free-jazz trio can.

Brian Groder, a several-years younger New York cat, contributes with innovative compositions and a fat trumpet tone that is always ready to take over after Rivers nervy but always inventive saxophone cascades. Instead of letting the music trail out in tracks longer than a taxi ride to Bergsjön, this exceptional compressed free-bop is refreshingly uncommon. Torque contains 14 tracks, most of which clock in at around 3-4 minutes, and you'll play the disc so many times, trying to find your favorite part, that the batteries in your remote will die. It's that kind of thing.


05/04/2007  Trem Azul Jazz Store, Portugal

Good trumpeter, this Brian Groder, a name deserving of more recognition than it has.

But since things work this way in reality, Torque catches your attention not so much for the superior quality of the compositions and the improvisations of the leader, or the good-as-gold rhythm section consisting of Doug Mathews and Anthony Cole, but, yes, because the name of the man on the flute and saxophones is Sam Rivers. Rivers is not diminished by his age, intense as always and sometimes playing with the force of a tornado.

The general atmosphere of the disc has something of the end of the 1950s, the height of which saw the spread of the seeds of free jazz, but it is completely un-nostalgic, destroying the arguments of any who lament the absence of 'the new thing' existing today, but do not equally criticize the current reproductions of bop, considering it the limit and the apogee of 'true jazz' and therefore a repeated justification if possible ad eternum.

What we have here [with Torque] is a true definition of today's jazz; swinging, vibrant and full of vitality. In this aspect, the contribution of Cole, the drummer, is essential. He starts and stops the changes, holding the oars and steering the boat itself - as in the case of 'Involution' (an ironic title?) - not a usual thing to hear on a record.

But do not think from this description that the album is at half-strength or immature; Groder can have a hot sound, particularly when he plays the flugelhorn, but his underlying logic is always acutely melodic and he prefers subtlety (notice how he deals with dynamics) to the obvious.

As for Sam Rivers, listen to the bittersweet heights of the sound of his tenor and try to remember someone else who could touch you thus ... you can't, can you? Another reason to listen with great attention to this album; at 83, this magnificent saxophonist, sadly, will not have a long road to travel.

Beyond that, in music as in the art of wine, the number of added springs remains a guarantee of refinement.


01/04/2007 Bill Meyer, Downbeat Magazine

Brian Groder brings impressive focus and impeccable chops to this encounter with Sam Rivers. The trumpeter holds his own as a player opposite a true giant of jazz, bringing poised, muted trumpet figures that fit perfectly with Rivers' elaborate flute filigrees on the freely improvised 'Behind the Shadows Part 1'. He also asserts his presence confidently into a tight band that's been going for more than a decade, finding firm footing in 'Oculus''s relaxed, swinging groove and joining into the collective tumult of 'Betwixt'. The other two players get a couple duets apiece with Groder, and each offers a strong example of unflagging engagement. The opener, 'Spellcast', features drummer Anthony Cole's masterful management of tension with fluid shifts from cymbals to toms. Bassist Doug Mathews' adroit shifts between unison and counterpoint on 'Jingo' are impressive.

While it's Groder's date, Torque is an excellent opportunity to hear Rivers in a two-horns-and-rhythm-section setting that he hasn't employed for a while. His adroit tenor turn on 'Diverging Orbits' sounds individual yet completely integrated into Groder's free-bop framework; the energy and attunement of his playing belies the fact that he was 81 years old when this disc was recorded. Somehow that makes this recording seem even more special. Four Stars.


17/03/2007 Elliot Simon, All About Jazz-NY

The axis on which this session rotates is the superb rhythm section of bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole. That said, Torque is likewise an intergenerational jazz jaunt that works exceptionally well due to several factors: the extreme level of comfort that flutist/saxophonist Sam Rivers has with this rhythm section; the fact that Rivers, at the age of 83, can still blow away just about anybody; and compositional skills of the driving force behind this date — trumpeter/flugelhornist Brian Groder.

A member of the '60s Jazz Composers Guild, with pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Archie Shepp, Rivers has credentials that match up with any seminal avant-gardist. His '70s SoHo performance space Studio RivBea served as a wellspring of free jazz and his playing across these tracks has lost none of that fire. Groder, who is a shining light in NYC's new jazz avant-garde, leads the proceedings with an emphasis on his flugelhorn and intersperses ensemble playing with duets of various pairings on these 14 compact pieces.

A spiritual airiness makes these forms and rhythms, which defined primarily in terms of line, stand out. From the artistic packaging to tunes like 'Diverging Orbits' that lift off in controlled melodic flight before each player enters into his own trajectory and 'Fulcrum' which both horn men independently rise up from a rhythmical pivot point, a loose zeitgeist prevails. 'Behind the Shadows Part 1 and 2' are diminutive flute/horn duets with Rivers leading on 'Part 1' and Groder returning the favor on 'Part 2'. All four of these musicians are able to use the full range of their instruments to quell or excite and whether it is a gorgeous duet, tight ensemble playing or Rivers and Groder spitting fire, Torque twists and turns easily to move through its free and structured spaces.


04/03/2007 Tad Hendrickson, JazzWeek

The son of two swing musicians and someone who spent his early years in Atlantic City house bands, Brian Groder has decidedly different ideas when he leads his own session. On Torque, his fourth as a leader, the trumpeter/flugelhorn player's music hearkens back to the '60s avant-garde where arrangements were wide open but the rhythm section usually swung and had a strong linear quality to it.

The Sam Rivers Trio here backs Groder, including the saxophonist himself, so there is a solid chemistry that anchors each track.

Another strength is that Groder chooses to keep his tunes short, seldom breaking the four-minute barrier and only going over six minutes once. This brevity allows listeners who may not be fans of avant-garde jazz to take in the music without being overwhelmed. Groder also offers plenty of solo time to Rivers, who is still his same old speedy self even in his 80s. Highlights include the horn and sax duo piece called 'Camouflage', the nicely lyrical 'Oculus' and the jaunty 'Involution', which is co-written with Joanne Brackeen. Points for packaging as well.


01/03/2007 Daniel Spicer, Popmatters.com (UK)

Here’s a superior set of contemporary jazz, blazing straight out of the long and unruly heritage of left-field explorations. Rising trumpeter and composer Groder is here teamed with the eminent saxophonist and flautist, Sam Rivers, plus Rivers’ usual rhythm section of bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole. Together, they whip up a bubbling, effervescent concoction of jagged, free-jazz group improvisations and hard-swinging free-bop that recalls Miles Davis’s mid-’60s ‘time no changes’ output as much as it does Ornette Coleman’s confounding harmolodic experiments. Groder and Rivers seem unnaturally in tune, weaving lines around each other, finishing each other’s thoughts and anticipating statements with razor-sharp accuracy. And the Octogenarian Rivers remains a commanding presence, attacking his sax with a fiery vigour that leads one to conclude that, in his case, jazz is, indeed, the healing force of the universe.


01/01/2007 Swing Journal, Japan

The best of Groder's last three CDs. Sam Rivers has been working together with his trio for the past 15 years ... Groder plays just like one of their members - the unity is superb. Groder's trumpet play sounds like Dave Douglas — marvelous!


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