Recorded two years ago, but only released this January, Torque
captures New York trumpeter Brian Groder collaborating with Sam Rivers' then-trio (Rivers, bassist Doug Mathews, drummer Anthony Cole) on 14 bracing blasts of fluidly improvisational jazz. Groder goes in for short bursts of creativity on Torque
, and most of the cuts here are refreshingly short: Two clock in at around six and a half minutes, while most of the rest are between two and four minutes. Running time is typically not an issue for jazz musicians, and the short lengths of these cuts is in no way indicative of a dearth of ideas. But it should be noted that the energy Groder gets from compressing these back-and-forths into quick bites increases their effectiveness without turning them into speed-jazz. Taken as a whole, Torque
functions well as a document of four superior players being inspired by one another (Mathews' bass work here is some of his freak-funkiest) and Groder's stratospheric trumpet chops hold up surprisingly well against the fire of Rivers' melodic squeal. When the two face off, trumpet versus flute, on the 96-second 'Behind the Shadows Part 2,â?� Groder is both respectful of and challenging to Rivers, while Orlando's own jazz elder playfully engages the youngster in a solid bit of conversational improv. The musicians are generally restrained as far as tempo and tenor goes, and the spacious recording atmosphere allows each man's instrument to ring out in the mix, giving the listener a chance to fully engage in the process.