Monday, April 26, 2021

Flow Trio With Joe McPhee - Winter Garden (ESP-DISK, 2021)

The liner notes and promotional material for this album present something of a bruised ego with regards to free jazz, but that is hardly necessary in the context of this album which features four master improvisers, Joe McPhee on tenor saxophone, Louie Belogenis on tenor and soprano saxophones, Joe Morris on bass, Charles Downs on drums creating hearty and provocative music that can be enjoyed by any open minded listener. "Rabble-Rouser" opens the album with bass and drums plus nice ripe saxophones, where the horns are playing adjacent to one another, yet together glued together with thick bass playing. The saxophones reach a raw uptempo but not wild, incorporating an excellent bass solo with bowing, punctuated with a bellicose roar of saxophone. Saxophones in separate stereo channels work together on "Recombinant" with swirling soprano spiraling soaring over grounding repetitive tenor. The bass and drums enter after a couple of moments, moving the music forward gracefully at a medium tempo, gradually gaining intensity and featuring a bass solo framed by light percussion. "Harbinger" opens with unaccompanied bass, building with insistent drumming and tenor saxophone that gradually build the performance. Long tones of saxophones arc into open space creating a new front in the band's approach, leading to deep toned bass, and vocalized and whinnying saxophone completing the emotional performance. Very fast bowed bass opens "Incandescence" with soprano saxophone and drums chipping in to create a hyper kinetic improvisation dominated by manic bowed bass playing supported by lightly played percussion, leading to a final section of stark tenor and searing soprano saxophones. "Glistening" has as soft drum and bass entry met by high, keening saxophone, underscored by probing, grainy tenor. The saxophones build intensity in space, leading to "Accretion," which uses unfettered saxophones and percussion, featuring large swathes of tenor then soprano creating raw, rending peals of sound amid thick and oily bass and a brief drum solo. "Winter Garden" concludes the album with even more impressive bass playing meeting up with understated percussion before the saxophones join in and accelerate the performance. The exuberant saxophones sound thrilling when placed against stoic bass and drums, leading to an excellent collective improvisation and smooth landing. This album worked very well as a whole, with four very talented musicians working together toward a common goal and succeeding grandly. Winter Garden -

Send comments to Tim.