Oracle (2011) All About Jazz
By MARK CORROTO
Pianist Russ Lossing's trio evokes a dreamlike state on Oracle, by communicating an atmosphere of unearthly elegance through trance-inducing energy.
Lossing, bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz commune at this level because they'd been a working trio for six years when this studio recording was made in 2007. Besides that, all three bring experience from the fertile jazz world: Lossing, as a member of bands led by Paul Motian, Dave Liebman, and Mat Maneri; Kamaguchi, with Frank Kimbrough, Matt Renzi, and John O'Gallagher; and Mintz, in bands with Vinny Golia, Tony Malaby, and Nels Cline.
Like his previous recordings—the solo All Things Arise (Hatology, 2007) and trio session, As It Grows (Hatology, 2004) (with Motian and Ed Schuller)—Lossing's composing and playing tends to be meditatively sparse, but satisfyingly sufficient, petitioning the listener to fill in the gaps of silence. This is accomplished through sometimes achingly slow passages that rely on expression over thrills.
The disc opens with Lossing drifting into the melody of "Swimming Dragon," as Mintz and Kamaguchi apply accents instead of a pulse, segueing from a simple theme into sliced abstraction. Likewise, the title track begins simply enough, with ruminations on a dream that evolve into a flurry of energy. The trio plays as if its group improvisation is not on the melody, as much as it is a meditation. The solidarity of its fantasy is the attraction here. Even when Thelonious Monk is imagined on Mintz's left-handed tribute, "Beautiful Ugly," the trio eschews stride piano for a two-handed dance, with the drummer supplying his own travel plans. The music is beautifully open, applying time at an unhurried pace that favors accent over cacophony.