Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CIMPhonia 1998 Part 2, Lest We Forget

I reviewed CIMPhonia Part One just about a year ago on these pages. Today we look at the second volume. It has the same lineup, essentially what is known today as Trio X (Joe McPhee, soprano sax and trumpet, Dominic Duval, acoustic bass, and Jay Rosen, drums) plus some well-chosen bright lights of avant jazz: Mark Whitecage, reeds, Paul Smoker, trumpet, David Prentice, violin, and the late Peter Kowald, acoustic bass.

As before the churning virtuoso two-bass tandem is one of the first things that catches your ear. But of course there's more than that. It's a free-avant set of exploratory excellence. The three horn (or really four when you include Prentice's violin) configuration of McPhee, Whitecage and Smoker (and Prentice) gives collective girth to the improvisations, and each understandably has much in the way of ideas and invention. They occupy the top spectrum of the music, the basses the bottom, and Jay Rosen's always thoughtful drumming rests somewhere squarely in the middle.

Solo moments emerge from the collectivity and then submerge. This is all about the power of seven improv gigantics interacting without reference to anything but their own imaginations. Like the first part, it is state-of-the-art free improv, a rather unsung gem of 1998. Click on the CIMP link in the right-hand column on this page for more information or to grab a copy.

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