“Solve for X” finds Jamie Breiwick and Jay Mollerskov as a musical Holmes and Watson?

Review: Jamie Breiwick & Jay Mollerskov – Solve for X (B Side)

Jamie Breiwick emerged by leaps and bounds as the most important jazz musician on the Milwaukee scene in 2021. The trumpeter-composer-conceptualizer works in both straight-ahead and cutting-edge realms.

His hip-hop/jazz trio KASE opened for Terence Blanchard’s E-Collective at the Marcus PAC, and he released a stunning bevy of albums, mostly on his own B Side label, but also, The Jewel (Live at The Dead Poet), a trio date on Ropeadope, with internationally-known drummer Matt Wilson, recorded live in New York.

Among the self-released albums, his latest, Solve for X, may be his strongest experimental album yet. The album cover by local printmaker Jay Arpin, depicting a massive iceberg, suggests the project’s quietly vast ambition and its “granular synthesis.” The album comprises “electronic works based completely on Jamie’s trumpet playing as the sole sound source.” The enigmatic title, borrowed from the Arpin print’s, suggests a creative inquiry as profound as the dimensions and revealing textures of the largely-submerged iceberg – the two musicians as a sort of musical Holmes and Watson, investigating a mysterious symbol perhaps signifying evidence of climate catastrophe.

Breiwick’s longtime friend, guitarist-synthesist Jay Mollerskov, took recordings of the trumpeter’s themes and solos, and mutated them into “granular landscapes” for the elegantly winged horn, a myriad of textures and tones. Breiwick displays exceptionally sustained lyricism.

On “Strata,” the ascending atmospheric spaciousness seems to virtually lift you out of your chair, beyond yourself, as if gazing down on the earth (in another strata), even suggesting a pensive moral pondering of humanity below. Here and elsewhere, the minimalist tonal aesthetic offers maximal textural effect.

“Traces of Things,” with its episodic fragments, suggests Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence.” Finally, “Reflect” delicately grounds the sonic outer limits like a mile-high kite-string, with rather gorgeous horn playing, including Breiwick’s son, Nolan, dueting with his father on trumpet.

Yet another Breiwick-brainchild album, KASE + Klassik Live at the Opera House, was just released this week, featuring Klassik, the brilliant Milwaukee-based hip-hop singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

For more information, visit:

B Side Recordings

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This review was originally published in slightly shorter form, in The Shepherd Express: https://shepherdexpress.com/music/album-reviews/solve-for-x-by-jamie-breiwick-b-side/

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