Sunday, November 21, 2010

Decoy and Joe McPhee - Oto (Bo' Weevil, 2010)

Saxophonist and sometime trumpeter Joe McPhee has been on quite a roll lately playing around the world in many contexts. The is one of the most unusual and interesting, a freely improvising group anchored by the Hammond B3 organ of Alexander Hawkins along with John Edwards on bass and Steve Noble on drums and percussion. Pioneers like Larry Young and Alice Coltrane brought the organ into free jazz from its "grits 'n' gravy" roots and Hawkins continues their experiments, getting bold swaths of sound from the instrument that are fascinating to hear. The music is broken into three improvisations, two very long ones, "Opening Might" and "Breakout" develop dynamically building sections of swirling and swarming organ, bass and drums and then making openings for McPhee to muscle in and contribute. Each member of the group gets solo time and they use it wall, adding to an overall group aesthetic that is very pleasing to hear as the group moves from soft abstract improvisation to full on blowouts. The finale, "Dancing on the Wolf Road" is a collective instrumentation that takes the music to a new level with deft playing from all concerned. This was a very good and consistently interesting disc, adding organ to a free jazz ensemble offered a lot of new opportunities for improvisation and texture to develop within the music and made for exciting listening. Oto -

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