As a member of the Creative Construction Company (with Anthony Braxton, Leo Smith and Steve McCall) and the Revolutionary Ensemble (with Jerome Cooper and Sirone), Leroy Jenkins helped create some of the '70s' most exciting sounds in new jazz. Now the violinist has moved in yet another direction as a member of a sextet called Sting, which made its Washington debut at d.c. space Saturday night.
Clearly more accessible than either of Jenkins' previous ensembles, Sting makes wonderful use of the violinist's fondness for insinuating, repetitive figures. The group's instrumentation--two violins, two guitars, bass and drums--may suggest a jazz-rock approach, but the accent is really on jazz and blues and, to a lesser extent, European classical and folk traditions.
Some of the pieces juxtaposed free improvisation with toe-tapping swing (played particularly well by electric guitarist James Emery) or a dollop of Delta-like blues played by acoustic guitarist Brandon Ross. Touches of chamber jazz, lively gypsy dances and earthy call-and-response gospel (sung expressively by violinist Terry Jenoure) enriched other pieces.
In almost every case, the numbers were built on short, recurring patterns, patterns which seemed to feed upon themselves, gaining momentum with every passing. Sting got better and better as the night went on.