Kronomorfic is the name for the polymetric, free-wheeling ensemble co-led by UCSD professor David Borgo (saxophone) and L.A. composer and drummer Paul Pellegrin, who, with their revolving cast of top-flight improvisers, have a brand-new release, "Entangled." Borgo and Pellegrin create complex, multi-layered rhythmic phrases that overlap and interlock, and the result is music that engages both brain and viscera -- even though locating the "one" can be a harder mission than finding a parking space on Black Friday.
For this recording, Borgo and Pellegrin are joined by Ben Schachter, John Fumo, Anthony Smith, Peter Sprague, Paul Garrison and Andy Zacharias with special guests Michael Dessen, Emily Hay, Brad Dutz and Mark Dresser.
Smith's tinkling glockenspiel and Garrison's storm-cloud electronics yield to a relentless ostinato by Zacharias on "Lumpen Momentum," while Pellegrin's kaleidoscopic beats endorse the tension of a short Borgo solo on soprano saxophone. A little further back in the mix, Smith comps with "Out to Lunch" clusters. A dizzying vortex fed by the currents of 9 vs. 13 beats coalesce in "Cellar Door," which boasts liquid solos from Sprague and Borgo, who seems a little underrepresented in the mix. Sprague's marvelous, extended nylon-string a cappella intro links to "Rhizome," a tune with a haunting melodic component that unifies Kronomorfic trademarks like staggered themes and odd intervals. Smith lays down a superb vibes solo to close the tune out.
Most of the record is dominated by the sprawling title suite, whose first movement, "Phantom Limb," features a braying Dessen essay, a quiet dialog between Sprague and Hay and Garrison's sonic wafting. "Transmigration" begins with screaming tenor and blustery trombone, shifts to a vignette between flute and marimba then erupts entirely with Dresser's monstrous, unaccompanied bass solo. Pellegrin's drums straddle the divide between ethnic and orchestral percussion with a level of excitement that is hard to describe.
The final movement, "Thought Insertion" features a manic dialog between bass and drums and horn cacophony. The album closes with "Creeping Normalcy," which finally allows one the chance to appreciate the contributions of Garrison's grungy skronk and paranormal-effects wizardry up front in the mix, as well as extended features for Fumo's trumpet while special respect is due to Zacharias for holding all of this metric chaos together. In all, it's challenging but rewarding music.
Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years.