Franklin/Clover/Seales: Colemanology (2005)
The title of this disc, this trio's third for the unique Indiana-based Beezwax label, suggests that Ornette Coleman is a field of study or expression unto himself, a notion few Coleman fans are likely to dispute. But aside from the long and loose closing title track penned by pianist Marc Seales, this veteran jazz outfit tends to walk a more conservative and composed line than Coleman is renowned for.
Louis Armstrong's "Basin Street Blues," which precedes "Colemanology" (not to be confused with trumpeter Bill Coleman's eponymous tune), is slowed down to the point where it can barely muster the will to move forward, a state of near-inertia complemented by the trio's instrumental sparseness. Drummer Steve Clover hardly makes so much as a breath in the background as Seales maximizes every note and chord. He builds up to a series of rushes and tumbles to close out his solo, but Henry Franklin pulls on the reins during his ensuing deep-voiced, ponderous bass solo.
The opening melodic line of Seales' "Monterey" has a classic sound to it. Echoing fragments of Franklin's early solo, Seales experiments with various methods of escalation and descent. This is followed by Pat Metheny's "Question and Answer," with its subtly changing call and steadfast response. The treatment is nothing approaching radical but it is articulate and sincere, and Clover's stuttering drum beat contrasts well with the overall fluidity of Seales and Franklin. Joe Zawinul's Weather Report ballad "A Remark You Made" is found here in a slightly darker romantic interpretation that, rather like the original, inches toward the boundary separating the poetic from the sentimental. The Rodgers and Hart chart "You Are Too Beautiful" is another straight-ahead number, this with a bit more pep than the two tracks on either side of it. It may err on the side of the traditional, but at the end of its brisk five-minute run, one invariably has the feeling that it's good to have been along for the ride.
Colemanology distinguishes itself from other recordings through its intimacy andthough this may seem odd considering its titular nod to Coleman and its four non-original chartsits pleasant feeling of self-containment. That is to say, the musicians don't appear to be making any bold references to the past and present; they express no special desire to be included among the grand dialogue. They are entirely content to conduct their private three-way conversation off to the side. In that way Colemanology feels like a comfortable respite while other records are shouting back and forth across the ages, aching to be heard and have their contributions, however large or small, acknowledged. Fitting, then, that it should be released on a modest independent label that assembles and numbers its albums by hand.
Track Listing: 1. Monterey (6:19) 2. Question and Answer (9:14) 3. A Remark You Made (5:52) 4. You Are Too Beautiful (4:51) 5. Basin Street Blues (6:10) 6. Colemanology (11:11)
Personnel: Henry Franklin (bass), Steve Clover (drums), Marc Seales (piano)