«Orbit of Sound» is the debut album of American double bass player Max Johnson’s newest trio, featuring tenor sax player-flutist Anna Webber and drummer Michael Sarin, that was formed in 2018. Johnson recorded before with Sarin in Simon Nabatov’s «Free Resorvior» (Leo, 2016) and performed occasionally with Sarin and Webber. The trio completed their inaugural tour of Europe in February and March 2020 but had to cancel their final concert and subsequent recording due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The album was recorded a year and a half later at Big Orange Sheep in Brooklyn in august 2021, and its release – on Johnson’s newly founded label Unbroken Sounds – coincided with a short European Tour.
Johnson composed five pieces for «Orbit of Sound», all using the compositional core as a springboard for extended improvisations that highlight the strong individual voices of Webber, Johnson and Sarin. You can sense the immediate and deep affinity that this trio has developed, already on the opening and aptly-titled «Quick One», with engaging and uplifting dynamics that bring to mind the ones of Thomas Chapin Trio, in which Sarin played. The trio enjoys its tight and well-balanced interplay but is always ready to take risks.
The trio continues to expand its aesthetics on «Over/Under» which begins with Webber and Johnson experimenting with extended breathing and bowing techniques and with Sarin’s subtle percussive sounds, but slowly Johnson and Sarin set a percolating groove that serves as a perfect basis for Webber’s melodic musings. «Too Much Tuna», with Webber playing the flute, is a playful piece that stresses again the clever rhythmic games of Johnson and Sarin and the natural flow of the music. «The Professor» alternates between ethereal and tight interplay and minimalist and more open playing that has an earthy sound and is darker and chamber in spirit. The last piece «Shepherd’s Morning» is a lyrical ballad. Here the melodic articulation of Webber is brilliantly accentuated by the ever-inventive Johnson and Sarin.
«Orbit of Sound» promises and delivers great music.
Anna Webber (ts, fl), Max Johnson (b), Michael Sarin (dr)