Friday, May 21, 2021

Flow Trio with Joe McPhee, Winter Garden


Combine Free Jazz tenor giant Joe McPhee with the Flow Trio (Louie Belogenis, soprano and tenor saxes, Joe Morris, bass, and Charles Downs, drums) and you have something. Their album Winter Garden (ESP Disk 5040), recorded in January of 2020 just before the Pandemic hit, fills the ears with wonderful sounds. 

They make great music here because in part they have a good deal of common ground that they share readily and brilliantly. McPhee and Belogenis are both carefully attuned to the full richness of sax timbres that one can hear through the history of Jazz and so they both channel the development of thickly overtoned sax emanations from Coleman Hawkins' day through to Ornette and Ayler and beyond. In the way they do this they become a unique amalgam, themselves.

They have over the years developed their sound so fully that the two-sax front line syncs in and the two realize a wonderful rapport as they simultaneously create dual solo layerings. It is a freedom that cares to find interesting note paths in addition to the timbral sculpting so nicely alive throughout. And they clearly listen and shape the sound around each the other.

And so one of the primary elements that openings onto expressive sequences centers on the importance of the collectively tight-looseness of the two sax front line.

Creating contrasting and comingling bass lines with a nicely woody tone is Joe Morris, who can always be relied upon for rhythmically apt interactions with the drums yet open and freely challenging note choices that allow the horns to go virtually anywhere in response--be it advanced tonality, polytonality or pronounced tonal ambiguity.

Charles Downs cascades in ever varying, ever inventive freetime drum barrages that creates a multi-valent rhythmic ambiguity that helps the quartet traverse vast panoramas of open articulations.

Perhaps it is obvious to anyone who hears this but the quartet maintains the pre-free and now-free expanded role for each in the quartet--which ultimately identifies this music as of the Jazz camp rather than say, a New Music Improv date. It works because all four embody so deeply the tradition of such music without at all repeating what might have come before. 

What pulls it all together is the sureness of articulation from all concerned and in that way, the extraordinary commanding presence of Joe McPhee's tenor. The unfolding of the collective note/timber spontaneities never flags. Bravo. Hear this one! Get it!

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