Sunday, June 15, 2008

AALY Trio + Ken Vandermark - Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe (Wobbly Rail, 1999)

The Scandinavian avant garde jazz trio AALY, composed of Mats Gustafsson on saxophones, Peter Janson on bass, and Kjell Nordeson on drums invited multi-reed player Ken Vandermark for an exciting concert recorded live at the Glenn Miller Cafe in Stockholm in March of 1999. The music is very wide open and free, with the saxophonists weaving back and forth, and taking turns fronting the powerful rhythm section. The first track, "Unit Character (for Jimmy Lyons)" leads off with high-pitched saxes that have overtones of Albert Ayler, and a gleefulness in the freedom of the improvisation. This is ferociously exciting collective improvisation. A lengthy version of Ayler's own "Ghosts" is next, building slowly from spare percussion and saxophone drones before the familiar melody emerges and gives way to full band free improvisation. Sections of solo saxophone and a strong sax and drums interlude becomes very fierce. A lengthy bass solo bridges the end of this track into Gustafsson's "Alva Jo" which starts in a rather tame manner with tandem saxophone. Things get wilder in a hurry with some rough tenor over a rampaging rhythm section, almost getting a roadhouse feel with gutbucket tenor saxophone and pummeling drums. British saxophonist Joe Harriott's "Idioms" finishes the disc with strong full group improvisation giving way to a very cool twin sax attack of light soprano and dark tenor. This was a very good album of free jazz, with the group interacting well together and creating very exciting and fresh music.

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