Jason Adasiewicz's Varmint, is his second album with Rolldown, a Chicago-based jazz sextet including Josh Berman. Apart from Berman's Old Idea, Adasiewicz also performed on Rob Mazurek's no-wave, post-jazz record Sound Is, Chris Connelly's industrial nightmare Forgiveness and Exile (with a slew of the Jade Tree roster inducing the brothers Kinsella and the brothers Vida), and he helps round out the Exploding Star Orchestra on both their albums. Clearly [a-DAH-shev-ITZ] is as much a musical auteur as an adaptive vibraphonist.

Varmint, however, isn't post-rock or maniacal, mechanical obelisk, but rather straight jazz. The album's timeless quality hearkens back to the likes of Rudy van Gelder and fits in as a hard bop masterpiece, with tunes of unwavering swing pressed with, at times, rhythm less drums and unexpected changes. Perhaps fittingly it is anchored by an Andrew Hill tune which ends the album. "The Groits" is off his 1964 album Andrew!!! and Adasiewicz pays more homage to the entire Hill sound, rather than making it his own. The bouncing vibes-piano part is replaced by Adasiewicz going it alone, allowing saxophonist Aram Shelton to take to the solo as Hill would've done on piano, marked by alternating short fast attacks and slow bop-drop interludes. The album's title track enters as a disarray of up-down jabs, provided by the rhythm section in drummer Frank Rosaly and bassist Jason Roebke. As the horns solo above, they withdraw to regimented straight swing and then back into quick, samba double time shots, all the while their front man providing a glaze of freewheeling vibe work.

Each track will surely flag down a famous player from your memory, it's almost impossible to listen to Varmint and not draw connections. For blues, try the inching, methodical "Dagger." "Hide" makes sharp turns from jangling to hard bop. There's no escaping the vastness of the album, Adasiewicz's love for music shines throughout.


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