Pianist/composer Frank Carlberg continues his fecund meditations on contemporary American and European poetry with his new CD from Red Piano Records, "Uncivilized Ruminations," featuring regular band-mates vocalist extraordinaire Christine Correa, saxophonists Chris Cheek and John O'Gallagher, bassist John Hebert and Michael Sarin on drums. The works Mr. Carlberg has chosen for this opus are characterized by a trenchant humor that is deftly mordant albeit never arch or outright sarcastic... a series of poetic asides, if you will, just this side of aphoristic, that highlight a range of fractal truths rising out of this particular juncture of time and "the great whatever it is out there." In many of these poems the tongue may indeed be buried in the cheek somewhat but it sure ain't found no home sweet home there, not by a long shot. The tastes left in ones mouth, so to speak, behind these bittersweet reflections, are not so much "bad tastes" but rather reminders of what it takes, in terms of courage, wit, to sally forth and muddle through this selva absurda that exacerbates our focus and keeps us on our toes, "ears to the ground," "eyes peeled," "nose to the grind stone," all elements of Mr. Carlberg's insightful hermeneutic sense. If there is an absurdist bent to Mr. Carlberg's settings it lies not so much in an existential angst-edged psycho-drama but rather in a pure appreciation of the heft and intentions of the language: the shaded possibilities of under-meanings and a kind of poise that clarifies the poem's postures toward reality - and in so doing he becomes the poem's partner as opposed to the poet's. Mr. Carlberg, by now well known for his explorations in contemporary poetry, has selected for this session the works by his fellow countrymen Finns, Anselm Hollo and Kai Nieminen and one by the late, great Detroit poet and novelist Jim Gustafson who is represented on track seven of this disc with is poem Perfect, a faux solipsistic paean to the comedic potential of ego obsession and existential self satire. Lunatics, the disc's opening is a paratactic rant comprised of terse excerpts from an 1852 medical journal. It begins with an effects-driven background that provides a sonic tapestry out of which Ms. Correa's voice states and restates the pieces opening thesis, "Lunatics. Crazy" with fiercely determine emphasis- grim and foreboding of a future already past. Mr. Cheek's solo uncannily weaves itself in an through the roiling accompaniment, not quite melting into the rhythm section's caterwaul, but rather investing it's edges and edginess with his own unique insistence and the quiet fire that for years identified his special gift. In John O'Gallagher, Mr. Cheek has found (credit Mr. Carlberg's genius for assembling the perfect combinations of personnel to enhance and realize a particular sonic agenda) an ideal partner and counterpoise, ferocious and unyielding, creating an almost political narrative mirroring the tunes insinuations of the siege of reason. And underneath it all, anchoring the ensemble, Mr. Carlberg and long-time colleagues, Mr. Hebert and Mr. Sarin, exquisitely attuned to one another, provide the soloists with the necessary freedom, space and sympathetic landscape for the ruminations - as they do throughout the "proceedings." Mr. Hollo's super abbreviated flash-fiction retelling of the legend of Tristan and Isolde, It was all about..., has an eerie Kurt Weill-esque ballad quality about it, dark but not ruthlessly dark, and punctuated by Mr. Carlberg's almost (you'll excuse my choice of adjectives here) lilting solo, swinging against the text and settin' the table for Mr. O'Gallagher's softly surging soprano soliloquy. Ms. Correa injects just the right note of ironical ennui into her interpretation or Mr. Hollo's quasi parody. In Old Age the stellar rhythm section elicits a spot on combination of humor and pathos in their reading of Mr. Nieminen's mini-classic, leading into a seamless John O'Gallagher solo, followed by the endlessly inventive Mr. Hebert's exclamation point, not punch line. "It makes more sense to enjoy one's posthumous success now. It won't be much fun later." Sound advice from the foxy Mr. Nieminen and underscored by Mr. Carlberg's and Ms. Correa's scintillating "duet," and Mr. Cheek's sinuous and bemused meander through the paradox. In Mr. Nieminen's Misanthrope Ms. Correa, the Greek chorus while her colleagues swirling pointillistically around her, has taken a fourteen word serio-comic poem and transformed it into a mock-epic saga of social catastrophe! In Don't Rush Me, a "humble and simple wish" becomes a plaintive cri de couer in an age of slavish speed and manufactured urgency against which the poet persists, persists and relents. The "heartbreaking" John Hebert bass solo confirms the poet's attitudes and the depth of his concern - beautiful! Mr. Carlberg has never been one to shy away form the overtly political in his own work, (see American Dream or State of The Union). He is, clearly, drawn to poems that are unabashedly critical of the sociopolitical realities that so adversely influence and impact our lives as in, in the words of the great Jonathan Williams, "We are too much in the hands of those on whom we lay no hand" Hollo's Prairie Dogs, has a special resonance for that predilection in Mr. Carlberg's oeuvre: rueful and insightful and pissed off! Pygmy Hut, the perfect closer. Mike Sarin's solo leads one to believe he actually might have been there, in Mr. Hollo's head while he was writing the poem - amazing! As for Mr. Carlberg and Mr. Hollo, their twinned post-Sisu sensibilities are in perfect sync, sidelong glancings off the goofy funnybone of life, dancing down the corridors of care and commitment with outrageous precision and militant wit. Red Piano Records, with this most recent release, moves toward the front tier of emerging (and significant) indie jazz labels: great artists making great music that's not afraid of making a point.