Friday, December 1, 2023

Brew, Heat (1998-99), Between Reflections (2019), Miya Masaoka, Reggie Workman, Gerry Hemingway


When it comes to Brew, I am guilty of not previously being aware of them as a threesome. Yet I have been gladly aware of kotoist Miya Masaoka for some time, and of course i have followed happily the bass, bandleading and musical direction of Reggie Workman for many years and so too of drummer Gerry Hemingway. But I still say after studying the music that the whole in the presence of this double CD Heat (1999) and Between Reflections (2019)  (Clean Feed CF642) is greater  in the sense that the three invent a largeness that I did not quite expect of either of the three singularly. It was a surprise at what they created as a whole beyond what I might have heard them do previously, or in other words there is a happy confluence, a chemistry of togetherness that is a true pleasure to hear, cover-to-cover.

Miya plays koto and electronics throughout, then appears also as percussionist and on the monochord and percussion for the second CD, Reggie appears of course on bass as well as percussion plus saw and digeridoo on Between Reflectiony, Gerry plats drums and electronics throughout and then also vibes and voice for CD2. There is a consistency of excellence ro be heard always, a distinctive expressive totality that touches on motives, an openness with occasional forays into swing and rock underpinnings. The koto in Miya's hands can sound like itself technique-wise but then at times a harp, a guitar and/or an avant extended technique vehicle. Workman and Hemingway complete the picture with a rhythm team as good or better than any today.

This is a very first-rate improv sequence, and both the early and later disks come through with high impact. music, all astute improvisation sequences, some of the best on our current scene.

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