Monday, September 17, 2012

Elliott Sharp Trio - Aggregat (Clean Feed, 2012)

While many musicians “double” on multiple musical instruments, they are usually on instruments that are similar in range and texture, like saxophonists playing both tenor and soprano. So it was particularly interesting for Elliott Smith, a well known guitarist, to also add tenor and soprano saxophone to his repertoire on this trio album where he is accompanied by Brad Jones on bass and Ches Smith on drums. Sharp’s approach to saxophone is similar to his approach to guitar, aggressive and exciting, developing spirals and knots of sound with a raw and brawny tone. It’s rousing and somewhat jarring to hear the him switch back and forth between the instruments, but the music is well equipped for it and Jones and Smith are excellent developing a free tumbling rhythmic scheme. The opening track “Nucular” (a Sonny Rollins nod) and “Allelia” are focused on the saxophone, with Sharp developing squeals and long waves of pure sound and emotional exclamations over cool bass and drum support. “Hard Landing” is a stellar guitar based performance with Sharp blasting out angular shards of electricity and weaving them into an outrageously intense collective improvisation. The trio tumbles like acrobats on the guitar centered performance “The Grip” playing off deep textured snarling electric guitar against loping drums and bass to excellent effect. This was a very successful recording, Sharp proves himself a very powerful improviser on both guitar and saxophones, devising improvisations that make the most of his considerable skill as well as that of his bandmates, making for a substantial statement. Aggregat -

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