Russ Lossing | Metamorphism
by Jeff Becker
Pianist and composer Russ Lossing is releasing Metamorphism on Sunnyside Records. The eight original compositions presented on the project is reflective of his continually evolving compositional identity. The quartet members are regular collaborators with Lossing and pivotal to the album’s sound and success. Each member has an extensive vocabulary and the ability to play many styles without conforming to established sounds. The ensemble is Lossing – piano; Loren Stillman – alto and soprano saxophone; John Hébert – bass; and Michael Sarin – drums. Lossing wrote each of the eight compositions as a strategy for the interplay between the players. The ensemble is crucial to the success of the pieces. The result is an open, impressionistic interplay that gives each selection a ‘buzz’ of exploration and daring.
“Three Treasures” is a composition built on a rhythmic motif and Middle Eastern scale colors. The ensemble is synced, and the groove they create is beautiful. Lossing’s composition explores a form that has space for exploration and written notes. Lossing’s solo is a conversation with Sarin and Hébert with the tension and release and harmonic adventures being a fun listening experience. The ensemble’s explorations live in familiar structural sounds and keen timekeeping. The fun in the investigation is the freedom and shifting of the melodic passages and propelling figures in a conversational manner instead of just following the ‘changes,’ for example. The solo sections unfold spontaneously and come across as a natural progression of the musical conversation inspired by the original theme.
“June Jig” has a straight-eight groove and an intervallic adventurous melody. With a back and forth between the theme and the rhythm section. The solos are relaxed, responsive, and a spike in their shape and intensity. Sarin’s drum colors and polyrhythms are excellent and add fuel to each soloist fire. The feel changes to an up-tempo swing for the interdiction of Lossing’s solo. His active arpeggios create waves over the feel. Sarin and Hébert provide a lively chugging rhythm over which Lossing unspools a solo of boundless imagination.
Metamorphism is an interaction of musicians that create cohesive improvisation on Lossing’s compositions through an effortless facility. The written melodies are highly memorable, giving the ensemble a resounding conversational theme. Each of the members leads and follows based on the music’s desire to grow. They know and own their voice as they meld to create a churning unit, each occupying slightly different niches within the music’s spectrum. Metamorphism is conversational modern jazz.