Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sam Rivers/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul - Reunion: Live in New York (Pi Recordings, 2012)

This special reunion concert was recorded at the climax of radio station WKCR’s week long Sam Rivers Festival, where the saxophonist/flutist/pianist was reunited with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul for a concert recorded live at Columbia University in 2007. During its heyday from 1972 - 1978, the group was influential for helping lead the movement towards free jazz on the New York City loft scene, especially Rivers’ own Studio Rivbea. It’s hard to believe that the three musicians had not played together for twenty five years before this concert, because they seemingly picked right up where they left off. Rivers was a remarkable multi-instrumentalist, playing tenor and soprano saxophone, piano and flute and switching between instruments with remarkable clarity and agility. Instead of the scalding energy music that is associated with much free playing, the music presented here by the trio is high energy, but the freedom is a freedom of ideas, of moving across space and time as they choose in the course of two lengthy uninterrupted sets. Holland is remarkable as always, playing a deep toned and rock solid bass that flows beautifully and Altschul sounds similarly inspired developing deep swirls of percussive sounds, interacting beautifully with Holland and Rivers. There are a few solo and trio settings over the course of the two sets, but the focus of the music is the deeply empathetic collective improvisation. The band is totally focused in the moment, like artists walking up to a blank canvas and extemporaneously creating in real time with no preconceived notions. It almost has the feel of listening to an intimate conversation between longtime friends, and that conversation is thrilling. Reunion: Live in New York - amazon.com

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