Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dave Sewelson - Music for a Free World (FMR Records, 2018)

Dave Sewelson arrived in New York City from the west coast just in time to participate in the loft scene, playing with a host of forward thinking jazz luminaries in addition to leading his own bands over the years. On this album he plays baritone and sopranino saxophones in the fine company of Steve Swell on trombone, William Parker on bass and Marvin Bugalu Smith on drums. “Music for the Free World” has the horns together playing the loud theme in a brash manner, it being one of the few themes composed for the session, the remainder being completely free. Fast bass and drums hold down the foundation for free sounding saxophone as the horns square off against one another in a brawny sounding duet before leaving off for improvising bowed bass with percussion shading. The horns ease back in with the trombone playing alongside the bass and drums, adding growling effects, and the saxophone wails, ratcheting up the intensity with a raw and scalding improvisation over bass and drums. This is followed by the epic twenty one minute “Tensiana,” where thick elastic bass and flurries of drumming give way to baritone saxophone and trombone as the full band digs in deeply. They develop a collective improvisation, one that gets faster, near frantic and very exciting as a trombone solo moves through the bass and very active drumming. The sound of the track continues to evolve through the use of very high pitched saxophone and the constant movement of all of the instruments in the band whether playing in a rough and ready collective manner or more thoughtful solo or duet sections. “T.B.” is a short interlude, with saxophone and trombone squeaking and jousting as the bass and drums lay out and the two musicians use long tones and breaths to add texture and substance to their improvisation, before moving to honks and toots in space as they play off of one another. The horns, bass and drums sound heavy and full on “Calm Pose” with raw scouring baritone saxophone against the trombone who offers more stoic support. The saxophone continues to probe, and builds a grinding solo with trombone, bass and drums in support. Swell’s trombone arcs and sputters across the nimble bass and cymbal play, drawing the full band back together for a collective improvisation and well executed conclusion. Dedicated to the memory of the group’s friend Bill Horvitz, “Bill,” begins with yearning saxophone and spare percussion, before delving into the longer tones of sound that reach out over the drumming, punctuated by bursts of activity which are blended into the quieter passages of the performance. Music for a Free World -

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