Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ballister - Worse For the Wear (Aerophonic, 2015)

The wonderful free-jazz trio Ballister rings in the new year with another spectacular album, recorded in Chicago in March of 2014. The group is made up of Dave Rempis on saxophones, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and electronics and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Things get off to a mighty start with "Formax" which has a supercharged full band opening with the three of them improvising collectively in a telepathic manner. Things throttle back a little bit before there is a solo of raw, scalding saxophone followed by some equally raw-boned amplified cello. Lonberg-Holm is able to have space of another guttural opening toward the end and by now the band is fully in the zone and races to the finish. "Scutum" is opened with sawing cello and drums before a thoroughly epic trio section around the six minute mark that is epic and thrilling and represents the spiritual heart of the album. The feint to a slower section of abrasive saxophone, getting heavier by the second and then developing a collective improvisation of saxophone, drums and flinty plucked cello. The album is concluded with "Vulpecula" which has a loose opening with the group biding their time led by bowed cello and skittering drums before slowly ratcheting up to the intensity before finally giving way to gales of saxophone. This was an excellent album, and shows that this group has grown into one of the most exciting groups on the contemporary jazz scene. Worse For the Wear - Aerophonic Records.

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