JazzTimes - 02/04, p.115
"Imbued with a depth that rewards repeated listening, TITRATION marks both a victory for Taylor and a solid entry in the catalog of today's shape-shifting avant-garde."
Active Ingredients: Jemeel Moondoc (alto saxophone); Steve Swell (trombone); Tom Abbs (bass, hi-hat); Chad Taylor (drums).
Additional personnel: David Boykin (tenor saxophone); Rob Mazurek (cornet);
Avreeayl Ra (percussion).
Recorded on July 5-6, 2002.
Personnel: Jemeel Moondoc (alto saxophone); David Boykin (tenor saxophone); Rob Mazurek (cornet); Steve Swell (trombone); Tom Abbs (hi-hat); Avreeayl Ra (percussion).
Liner Note Author: Kevin Whitehead.
Recording information: 07/05/2002/07/06/2002.
Photographer: Whitney Bradshaw.
Active Ingredients is a group who walk the line. Led by drummer and composer Chad Taylor, Active Ingredients reflects his dual citizenship in the vanguard jazz worlds of New York and Chicago by using three players form each city, with himself as the anchor. From New York, saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, bassist Tom Abbs, and trombonist Steve Swell are on one side, and from Chicago, cornettist Rob Mazurek, saxophonist David Boykin, and percussionist Avreeayl Ra balance out the equation. Taylor's drumming acts not so much as a link as a hinge, a linchpin on which the entire proceeding turns. The result is a wildly adventurous date that swings across continents in its musical approach, from North America to Southern Africa, and regards both freewheeling improvisation and elegant composition equally. If one only uses "Song for Dyanni," as evidence, one can hear the triple-timing syncopation Taylor provides as a basis for melodic invention. The interplay between Moondoc and Boykin is uncanny, and the way Swell and Mazurek fill the surrounding space with joyous bleats and cavernous legatos allows the rhythm section to punch through the middle and create the notion of song. The Afro-Cuban rhythmic setup of "Slate" stands in sharp contrast to Boykin's free blowing intensity in the opening solo, burrowing a way down into a tonal center from which everything else revolves. "Modern Mythology," offers a series of long, loping, front-line statements before giving way -- via Abbs' bass and Taylor's cymbal work -- into something altogether abstract and harmonious. The free improvs, such as "Velocity" and "Absence," offer textural studies that integrate the various tonalities of the front-line players into multivalent musical languages. In essence, Titration is a brilliant articulation of balance, not only between two approaches to the jazz avant-garde, but also of the new composition that relies so heavily on free improv. ~ Thom Jurek