Noah Kaplan


Descendants Hat Hut***

Saxophonist Noah Kaplan, still in his 20s, makes his debut as leader on Descendants. As the title acknowledges, Kaplan’s music descends from a particular tradition – one which seeks to reconcile free jazz with the tonal innovations of 20th-century avant-garde composition. He hits the ground running here, with the baton passed to him by his mentor, saxophonist Joe Maneri, whose microtonal synthesis of jazz and Schoenberg was a formative influence. But if the start line is Kaplan’s compositions, the group – including guitarist and Maneri collaborator Joe Morris – get into their stride as a free improv unit, feeling their way out of the tunes and into new territory. It makes particular demands on the listener, and those attuned to more consonant noises may baulk at what sound like indeterminate pitches. But as a marker at the frontier of western tonality, Descendantsis a worthy addition to a rarefied genre.