Shot X Shot: Let Nature Square

Shot × Shot 

Shot x Shot - Let Nature Square

Shot x Shot - Let Nature Square

Let Nature Square

  1. Scans
  2. Triple Double Download Triple Double
  3. Overlay
  4. Oh No
  5. Autobonsai

Dan Capecchi: drums
Matt Engle: bass
Bryan Rogers: tenor saxophone
Dan Scofield: alto saxophone

Shot × Shot
Let Nature Square

Let Nature Square is the first studio album from Philadelphia acoustic jazz group Shot × Shot. The quartet’s self-titled live album, was heralded as one 2006’s best debuts by a jazz band by the Village VoiceChicago Reader, and other outlets. Critic Francis Davis said “It’s been ages since I’ve heard a debut recording this adventurous and assured”and the album received praised in the pages of Downbeat, The Wire, Signal to NoiseAll About Jazz–NY, and other publications.

Let Nature Square is a giant leap forward for the band. The album documents the evolution of young players growing into their own individually and stretching the boundaries of a collaborative relationship. The music of Shot × Shot has always been nuanced and innovative, but now it has earned the distinction of being truly extraordinary.

While each member of the unit is a skilled improviser and the band incorporates improvisation into the structure of the music, Let Nature Square shows the skill of the group as composers.

The written material is structured, but in a nonlinear way that allows improvisation and unpredictable lyricism. When most people think of collective improvisation, they think of unabashed squaking and reckless abandon. Instead, Shot × Shot assert calm over clamor, balance over turbulance, inspiration over perspiration. The band relies on improvised composition rather than a kind of “trading solos“, which is predominant in other modes of jazz (including even some types of “free” playing).

While the band’s debut was a live date that was subsequently slated for broad release, the process of Let Nature Square was consciously different. Shot × Shot captured the band in an improvisational conversation – a recording that was graciously enveloped by the natural reverb of the chapel in which it was recorded.

What the listener hears on Let Nature Square is essentially a different kind of live album. There were no acoustic properties of a space that the band was trying to exploit. This recording is a much more accurate document of what the band actually sounds like. Recorded essentially live to tape, the band recorded in each piece in just two or three takes—maintaining the spontaniety of the music, while getting a sterling recording.

The album’s five compositions posit Shot × Shot in different contexts, with all maintaining the organic, non-dogmatic aesthetic for which the band is known. Three of the band’s four members contribute compositions, pulling in varying influences from jazz and other genres. It’s rare for a collaborative quartet to have more of its music written by its rhythm section than its hornplayers, but three of the five pieces on Let Nature Square were written by bassist Matt Engle and percussionist Dan Capecchi.

Saxophonist Dan Scofield contributed two pieces: “Scans,” a seemingly chaotic affair that that slowly reveals itself into a lullaby, and the album-closing “Autobonsai,”a compelling free-jazz rubato melody.

Though no member is ever really marganilized in Shot × Shot’s music, the horns become almost secondary and the improvisation is minimal on Engle’s “Triple Double.” Capecchi’s two pieces, “Overlay” and “Oh No,” are practically inverses of each other. “Overlay” features the most collective-improvsation of any of the compositions and also has the most severe shift in feel and mood; it begins slowly and sweetly and ends with a kind of driving, rising momentum. “Overlay” is quite complementary, as it begins with a pugnacious, again assertive section, before breaking into more subdued sections.

Shot × Shot is mining unique territory on on its new album. With each composition, the group’s dedication reveals important new discoveries.


Village Voice
{Apr 2, 2008, Jim Macnie}
The Philly foursome is starting to get some cred up here. That’s because their two-reed front line is elastic enough to wax both pissed and pastoral without seeming bipolar. A couple crits have mentioned that they love them some Bloodcount—that seems right. But on the upcoming Let Nature Square the playing is individual enough and charged enough to squash any echoes.

Philadelphia City Paper
{Shaun Brady}
Let Nature Square (High Two). It follows several aborted attempts at a second album and captures a truly collective unit, much matured and obviously at ease with following one another’s ideas to the furthest.

Philadelphia Daily News
The increasingly great young Philly quartet… Their first studio recording shows the leaderless, collective unit maturing into a sprawling compositional style blurring the boundaries between composition and improvisation.

Time Out: New York
{Apr 3, 2008}
Shot x (say “by”) Shot is a commanding avant-jazz quartet from Philly. The group has established itself as a true collective, in which all members compose, as well as contribute integrally to the focused yet spacious improvisations.
{May 7, 2008, Troy Collins}
Shot x Shot embraces a highly disciplined approach to group improvisation, with an emphasis on ensemble sound, eschewing sudden stylistic shifts in favor of extended thematic development.
A young ensemble on the rise, Shot x Shot is poised for a promising future. Let Nature Square effectively captures their emotive live energy and creative potential in pristine studio sound.

Jazz Prospecting
{April 2008, Tom Hull} Trivia: type “shot x shot” into google and it returns: 1 shot x shot = 1.96783571 × 10-9 m6. No idea what that means, but typographically the ‘x’ in the group name is a multiplication sign, so I figure they’re somehow related. Philadelphia group: two saxes (Bryan Rogers on tenor, Dan Scofield on alto), bass (Matt Engle), and drums (Dan Capecchi). Almost everyone writes (Rogers missed out this time). Second album. Free jazz, rocks abstractly. The two saxes don’t diverge as much as similar sax/trumpet groups, which may be why their stuff blurs a bit. Two good solid albums. Someday a great one? B+(***)

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