On this maiden recording, Chicago-based bassist Jason Roebke leads a new quartet, featuring his original compositions and a stellar lineup. The music, which was brilliantly recorded at Steve Albini's legendary Electrical Audio and expertly mixed and mastered by Alex Inglizian at Experimental Sound Studio, is performed by veteran reed player Edward Wilkerson Jr., whose own bands Eight Bold Souls and Shadow Vignettes were among the great ensembles of eighties/nineties Chicago, extending the AACM tradition and spotlighting Wilkerson's sensitive improvising. Here, wielding tenor saxophone and alto clarinet, Wilkerson is a commanding – but also supremely collaborative – voice, joining the younger pianist Mabel Kwan and drummer Marcus Evans. Roebke's scores are rich and flexible, but they concentrate on exploring multifarious ways of stopping, something that's been a feature of the bassist's own improvisation for decades. Investigating the interrelationships between flow and cessation, the quartet is at once organic and halting, Roebke and Evans playing together with great assurance, but occasional interruptions of metronomes or Roebke's lo-fi cassette recordings pushing against the fluidity and expressiveness in revelatory ways. Roebke's own bass playing has been a feature of scads of ensembles, both working and ad hoc, including Jason Stein Trio, Jeb Bishop Trio, James Falzone’s KLANG, Jorrit Dijkstra’s Flatlands Collective, Pillow Circles, The Whammies, Keefe Jackson, and Mike Reed’s People, Places, and Things. The CD package for Four Spheres comes adorned with a beautiful painting by Rebecca Shore.
EDWARD WILKERSON JR.
tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, metronome
double bass, cassettes, metronome
Compositions by Jason Roebke
Recorded by Greg Norman on December 3, 2022, at Electrical Audio. Mixed by Alex Inglizian at Experimental Sound Studio.
Cover image “Untitled (95-33)” (1995), by Rebecca Shore. Design by David Khan-Giordano.