Friday, July 22, 2016

Six-In-One - Subjects and Structures (Slam, 2016)

Six-In-One is a powerhouse band featuring Bruce Coates on sopranino, soprano and alto saxophones, Paul Dunmall on tenor saxophone, Corey Mwamba on vibraphone and recorder, Walt Shaw on percussion and electronics, Seth Bennett on bass and Mark Sanders on drums. Six-in-One is comprised of six musicians chosen by Shaw Coates to celebrate the final night of their exhibition of the relief and constructed sculpture called Subjects and Structures. The opening performance “Subjects” has a slow probing beginning with vibes playing in open space, followed by abstract percussion and bowed bass. The saxophones weave in and out of one another looking for purchase with the vibes framing their dialogue. The music starts to get wilder and more exciting as time goes on, and saxophones build, drums crash and vibes reverberate accordingly. There is an impressive bass solo, and a quiet abstract section for percussion and vibes. Dynamism is the name of the game and the group uses it very well. Reeds flitter about each other in open space like birds around a fountain, and then they lead into a full band collective improvisation, which builds in intensity. The music becomes more strident and powerful as saxophones wail and drums thrash. There is a slow and cautions opening for reeds and percussion on “Structure” where vibes provide balance for flickering brushed percussion and reeds. The free collective improvisation is a high wire act, but the music the band plays here is balanced and nuanced. There is tenor saxophone soloing against and in alignment with complex percussion before the music blooms into a great free jazz collective improvisation, with drums getting deep and saxophones charging hard while vibes clank and sprint across the surface of the music. There is a fast and exciting section for vibes and drums in a percussive dialogue, which then backs out to a quiet and abstract silence. The music moves back to a two-reed conversation between soprano and tenor horns which make a dialogue with the skittering percussion. The horns begin to swirl dangerously and make for caustic commentary and an exciting exchange, then making way for a spot of bowed bass as well. The reed dialogue is really the highlight of this section, especially in association with shaken percussion and drums. There develops a section of clanging vibes and wheezing saxophones followed by a volley of hand percussion in the midst of a subtle backgrounds of reeds and vibes. The horns return with alarming intensity and develop into a full-blown collective improvisation by the group that is very exciting. “Nothing Is Paltry - After Antoni Tàpies” is the coda that has slow and probing instrumentation accentuated by the unexpected sound of recorder. Saxophone and recorder with light percussion, moving slower and quieter and the music is very subtle. This was a very well done performance of free jazz. The music on this recording celebrates the richness and complexity of improvisation while remaining accessible and thoughtful. Subjects and Structures -

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