Rent Romus' Lords of Outland
Saxophonist/composer Rent Romus is committed to exploring new paths for improvisation. Last year, he introduced his original Lords of Outland concept on You'll Never Be the Same -- a boisterous (though not unfamiliar) set of largely modal, pushing-for-the-cosmos jams for traditional quartet (sax, trumpet, bass, drums). His better-developed follow-up, ADAPT ... or DIE! (slated for release this week), revamps the Lords into a more deviant configuration with fresh recruits Jon Birdsong (sousaphone), Dave Mihaly (drums), and John Tchicai (tenor sax). The shift in personnel and instrumentation yields a punchier, more expansive format for Romus' self-proclaimed "Nordic Viking Jazz" or "Bull in a China Shop" attitude. The moods his compositions evoke range from stone-chilly frolic to dark-edged gravity, pitting fiery horns against solid but flexible tuba/traps grooves. On tunes like "Descent of the Avatar" and "Dr. Ke's 'I' " (the latter of which finds Romus blowing dual reeds at once, with poise and panache, not unlike Rahsaan Roland Kirk), the leader evokes a stout tonal resonance up and down the register. The multihorn tumult on "Descent" suggests car horns in a gridlock, and the lead on "Dr." demonstrates the 29-year-old saxophonist's maturity as an increasingly melodic, yet ferocious improviser -- all of which bodes well for this emerging jazz explorer.
-- Sam Prestianni
Rent Romus' Lords of Outland are holding their CD release performance (with guest pianist Jonas Muller from Copenhagen) on Saturday, June 19, at 8 p.m. at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (between Folsom and Howard). Tickets are $6-10; call 626-2169.