Naranja Ha (Drip Audio)
Here’s a hint, grasshopper: if you’d like to learn more about free improv, pick up a copy of the Aeroplane Trio’s debut and work through it from finish to start. Yep, you read right: this is one package that should be encountered backward.
Of course, this only makes sense because the savants at Jesse Zubot’s Drip Audio label have packaged Naranja Ha with a bonus DVD that features a 45-minute live show and a short documentary on the band, which is where you should begin. Listening to trumpeter JP Carter, bassist Russell Sholberg, and drummer Skye Brooks talk about their 10-year relationship is fascinating stuff, especially when Brooks refers to the element of “conversation” in their approach. That’s made clear by the live show, taped at the Ironworks in 2008, in which a significant look from any one of the players is enough to send the music spinning into strange and wonderful new directions.
After that, it’s time to dive into the 11 relatively brief selections on Disc 1, which might sound like the work of a jazz trio but finds the band functioning more like a rock group. In other words, Carter, Sholberg, and Brooks think in terms of creating orchestrated moods rather than showcases for their considerable virtuosity, and with those moods ranging from the free funk of “Crow’s Nest” to the enigmatic incantations of “Plastic Farm Animals” to the fizzing noisescape of “Whatever Happened to the Sand People”, there’s a lot here to listen to and like.