Saturday, May 09, 2020

Sabir Mateen, Patrick Holmes, Federico Ughi - Survival Situation (577 Records, 2020)

The three musicians on this album, Sabir Mateen on saxophones, clarinets, flute, farfisa organ, and vocals, Patrick Holmes on clarinet and Federico Ughi on drums have traveled in the same circles for years, but hadn't recorded as a trio before meeting in Tuscany where Sabir Mateen has been living for the last few years. They created a freely improvised session, then took the tapes back to the studio for post production and crafted this album, which is strongly influenced by Sun Ra, whom Mateen played with in the 1980's. "Freedom of Souls" has long held tones of reed, with clarinet and ghostly percussion and organ; they soon pick up pace with swirling swooping clarinet curls, electric organ certainly recalling Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra. Combing for an interesting collective improvisation, Mateen adds mysterious echoed vocalizing, further provoking the atmosphere of this unpredictable performance. Smears of organ, electronically altered and channeled to provide a near psychedelic tinge give way to drones providing a baseline for reed and drums to improvise around, creating a very interesting trio improvisation that spools out to the conclusion. A subtly played opening for clarinet and the other reed begins "Souls," tangling and diffusing, circling and swooping. Drums enter and alter the pace, engaging with tenor saxophone, establishing a free sounding dialogue. "Layers of Sound" has flute and light saxophone stratified above and below creating an interesting dynamic, while the drums rumble quietly underneath. The drums move to engage the reeds, making for a more strident improvisation, mixing the gradients and adding a hint of the unexpected. Stark sounding clarinet pierces the proceedings, with jabs of overdriven organ seemingly at random keep things moving. Mateen's light sounding unaccompanied saxophone improvisation sounds great, opening "Clarifying" and the other instruments soon glide in as clarinet and percussion filling out the space. The drums create an interesting fractured rhythm, engaging the reed players, one moving to flute to nudge the improvisation in a different direction. Clarinet and flute are an interesting blend especially in the company of dynamic percussion that waxes and wanes in intensity. Mid piece there is a shift to saxophone and clarinet in open space, with Ughi's drums moving in to create crisp rhythm for a riveting saxophone solo, and then finally a powerful three way free improvisation. The digital bonus track "You Can’t Touch That Because It Didn’t Hurt" opens slowly with raw ominous saxophone and clarinet framed by cymbal accents, and drones of sound from one reed with the other jabs and pierces. There is a complex system of language and conversation between the three musicians which yields strong results, with three instruments boiling and simmering in close contact creating excellent music in this crucible of creativity. Survival Situation -

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