Thursday, September 06, 2018

Rutherford / Vandermark / Muller / van der Schyff - Are We In Diego? (Catalytic Sound, 2018)

This is a surprising and most enjoyable set of live music featuring a very exciting band consisting of Paul Rutherford on trombone, Ken Vandermark on reed instruments, Torsten Müller on bass and Dylan van der Schyff  on drums and percussion. This album was recorded in Vancouver, Canada in December of 2004. The rip through a short but varied performance with a couple of long improvisations and then short bursts of encore. The opening track "Morning Star" reaches twenty minutes in lengths and is an improvisational wonder. The music sounds fresh and open, with the bass and subtle percussion opening the piece, leaving room for Vandermark to join in on clarinet as Rutherford blows blustery asides. Everyone meets for a well articulated collective improvisation, that covers a wide range of textures and hues from raw power to spacey abstraction. Squeaks and swirls of clarinet meet bowed bass in a exciting section, joined by rumbling percussion and growling and arching trombone. The bass playing of Muller is very impressive, adding depth to the spare and open middle section of the improvisation, and acting as the anchor as the rest of the instruments fill in with volume and velocity, building to a powerful and exciting four way conversation, as Vandermark moves to tenor saxophone for some truly inspired playing. van der Schyff adds a crisp and riveting drum solo, that leads the group into an excellent concluding statement. There is a spare beginning to the title track "Are We In Diego Yet?" with short jabs of bass and quiet sounds gradually filling the available space, with curls of clarinet fluttering about as brushed percussion adds texture. Sparks of trombone begin to take shape as the percussion moves to sticks and mallets and Vandermark adds faster and stronger clarinet, all of which develops into an inspired collective improvisation filled with color and passion. "Venceremos" is a thrilling burst of sound with raw tenor saxophone meeting crushing drums and ripe trombone and bass for a wailing burst of sound that is thrilling to hear. After a much deserved round of applause and band introductions, there are three very short encores, that take the music out in grand style. The sound quality of this recording is excellent and the performance is out of sight, making this easily recommended to free jazz fans. Are We In Diego? Bandcamp.

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