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Sean Conly - Re:Action

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Artist: Sean Conly

Album: Re:Action

Label: Clean Feed

Review date: May. 1, 2009

Bassist Sean Conly is a Rufus Reid student who’s played with Russ Lossing, Andrew Hill, Ray Barretto and Freddie Hubbard, and seems quite interested in carving out his own niche in the generally crowded post-bop, post-free NYC scene.

His playing seems to take in all these influences, whether in lengthy solos like the expressive feature on “Something I Said?” or his tendency to play with pulse seemingly every measure. It’s the jittery latter quality that shapes Re:Action, at least in its most interesting moments. Along with saxophonists Tony Malaby and Michael Attias, and drummer Pheeroan AkLaff, the bassist pens a number of tunes that wend between impressive textural moments and intense, often melancholy expressionism.

Some tunes, like the tart rearrangement of “Gazzelloni,” with its fierce Malaby solo, tend towards the latter quality. Others, like the rapid riffing “Suburban Angst,” submit wholly to the former quality. And while these performances are satisfying, where the band really stands out is when it integrates the two tendencies fully. They do this compellingly on the loping “Daily Mutation,” the plangent “There’s the Rub” (which sounds to me like the intersection of Julius Hemphill’s “Skin 1” and Oliver Lake’s “Zaki”), and on “Concrete Garden,” whose swirling electronics are layered in what sounds like a Steve Coleman record run through a blender.

By Jason Bivins

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