Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Offshoot - Charybdis (Bruce's Fingers, 2015)

The performance recorded on this album seems to be one of the happy coincidences that do spring up from time to time. Musicians collected in London to put together different projects and this set was recorded at The Vortex in November of 2007 with Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Sarah Gail Brand on trombone, Joe Morris on guitar, Simon H. Fell on bass and Steve Noble drums. “Usclatx” opens in an enigmatic fashion with probing and low key saxophone and brass coloring the edges as bass and drums skitter about in the undergrowth. The pace picks up soon, the music is crowded, but still orderly with faster rolling drums and streaming saxophone leading a strong and fast collective improvisation. The sax and drum interplay is excellent and leads into some equally fine electric guitar, which takes charge with strobe like blasts of light. The music remains thoroughly dynamic dropping off to a quiet percussion area and moving through portions of loud/soft and fast/slow that are akin to breathing. The swirls of Brene’s saxophone and the moans of the brass echo the many emotions that are in play with this music, and this first track ends with the horns echoing sirens calling forth a warning in the night. The final track, “Blubberhouses” begins with cacophonous all out free jazz collective improvisation and it is very exciting to listen to. With that out of their system, the group drops to near silence, with Fell’s cymbals washing across the silence like the tide. There is a dark of night vibe that is fascinating and the musicians are patient to take their time and see where things go. Strummed guitar throws off prickly notes and low tones of saxophone deepen the atmosphere, before the page turns entirely and the intensity of the music ramps up quickly with a strong blast of saxophone and gales of drumming. Fell is a blast to listen to, he is seemingly everywhere, mixing rhythm and speed, and as this track nears it’s conclusion he enters into a great dialogue with the always inventive Joe Morris leading which takes things through to a rousing finish. It always fascinates me that musicians can just meet in a club and improvise at such a level as this. The amount of practice and dedication to developing their skills is phenomenal. The music here may be “free” be it has its own logic and reason that the musicians developed in real time with each other. This is excellent music, and it is highly recommended. ($1.99 mp3) Charybdis -

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