(114) Mark Karesman, Jazz Review -- 7/15/03

As the late great Ralph Kramden would say, “some people got it, some people don’t.” In this case, the “it” refers to the ability to craft engaging group (free) improvisation – some folks invariably spew a navel-gazing skronk-doodle fest, others keep in mind that somebody out there in Audioland is going to have to listen to what they’re layin’ down. Thanks be to the Studio Gods that this lot falls into the latter category. This quartet, whose individual components’ backgrounds include Cecil Taylor, Les McCann, Shadowfax and Nels Cline, plays with unusual focus and pointed cohesiveness. The results range from the ethereal, sparse ambiance of “Ether Or” (where J. Gauthier’s violin sighs and cries like a soprano voice) to the charging “Floating Bunraku” (recalling King Crimson at their thundering Red/Discipline best) to the churning “Steel Hair,” which I think is a deliberate (and welcome) tip-o’-the-hat to Miles Davis’ early 70s music. The musicianship of all is sterling, yet there are NO excessive/tedious displays of Technique. Every now 'n' again, this collective evokes the joyously dissonant, supremely rough-hewn proto-fusion the “mark I” Tony Williams Lifetime (Emergency/Turn It Over) – I can think of few higher recommendations than that.

Mark Karesman
Jazz Review