Friday, May 22, 2009

Avram Fefer - Ritual (Clean Feed, 2009)

Saxophonist and composer Fefer leads a scalding trio on this disc, he plays alto, tenor and soprano saxophones as well as bass clarinet, supported by Eric Revis on bass and Chad Taylor on drums. The music is very open and free sounding, both in terms of "free jazz" and the free flow of ideas between musicians that are interconnected and set on a common mission. The opener, "Testament" sets the scene beautifully with an intense improvisation on which Fefer gets a nasal, vaguely Middle Eastern tone from his horn, and Revis and Taylor support him superbly. Starting from a swinging introduction, "Shepp in Wolves Clothing" evolves into an intense trio performance that would not have seemed out of date on one of the dedicatee's Impulse LP's. Fefer plays two horns on this track, either playing two horns simultaneously or multi-tracking. The title track "Ritual" slows the pace of the music down to a more open and probing feel while still remaining raw and immediate. Like a religious rite the title alludes to, Fefer begins speaking ecstatically through his horn before ceding the floor to a fine bass solo. "Feb. 13" has the stark tenderness of a John Coltrane ballad from the Crescent era in its melody and improvisation, lyrical yet unsentimental. "Blinky Palermo" puts the band back on the fast track. Opening freely, the trio works to get its bearings and once those are established, the improvisation proceeds with an unerring sense of purpose. "Club Foot" has some nice swirling tenor and soprano saxophone, and a deft bass solo. "When the Spirit Moves You" wraps up the proceedings nicely with some fine bass clarinet playing. I really liked this album a lot, there was a raw and palpable sense that the musicians were reaching for something special. All three musicians worked together, supporting each other and combing their talents in pursuit of a common goal. This was stark, yet exciting music that has been shorn of all finery and left with the core essence that lies at the heart of the best improvised music.
Ritual (mp3 version) - amazon.com

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