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Idle Wild
Dennis González Spirit Meridian
Dennis González (t), Ken Filiano (b), Mike Thompson (d), Oliver Lake (as),

Music always speaks for itself, and this disc is no exception: a
spirited dialogue between four musicians who are not only conversant
in the idiom of improvised expression but who have something profound
to say together.

Trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and saxophonist Oliver Lake are
well-traveled musical explorers whose collaborators comprise a "who's
who" of the jazz avant-garde in the late 20th century. The two men
first played together in Texas in June 1992 after knowing each other
for over a decade, and were reunited in 2003 to play Portugal's
Coimbra Jazz Festival. On this recording, they're joined by bassist
Ken Filiano, who first encountered Gonzalez in Austin in the '80s, and
Mike Thompson, who previously drummed on Gonzalez' 2003 New York
Midnight Suite for Clean Feed.

The material on Idlewild comes from varied sources, but flows together
like a seamless suite. Gonzalez composed "Elechi" as an elegy for
bassist Malachi Favors, best known for his trailblazing work with the
Art Ensemble of Chicago. The piece occupies a ritualistic, sacred
space familiar to fans of the AEC, beginning with the root sounds of
percussion and horns before gaining velocity as grief gives way to
celebration. Here and elsewhere, Gonzalez plays with a soul-cleansing
purity of tone, while Lake is alternately astringent and lyrical.

In live performance, Gonzalez has introduced "Bush Medicine" with a
political statement: "If you are sick with a cold, you take cold
medicine. If your country is sick with Bush, you give it Bush
Medicine." (Some American listeners have objected to this use of the
forum, but fellow musicians like Charlie Haden would undoubtedly
approve.) The spirit of Gonzalez' fellow Texan Ornette Coleman is
present here as the two horns languidly intertwine before stating the
tune's sprightly theme, then the rhythm section joins in to support
their blues-drenched extrapolations.

"Idlewild" itself is a collective improvisation based on a theme of
Lake's. On this track, Filiano and Thompson's musical empathy comes to
the fore as they listen and respond to both the horns and each other.
"Dust" and "Song" were written by Gonzalez with Lake in mind, and they
serve as springboards to showcase the saxophonist's emotional range,
from comic freewheeling to volcanic intensity. Gonzalez has previously
recorded "Document for Toshinori Kondo" twice with Yells At Eels, the
trio featuring his hardcore punk-loving sons Aaron and Stefan on bass
and drums. Hearing Spirit Meridian essay the tune is an experience
akin to hearing Ornette's "classic" '59 quartet performing the same
material as his electric Prime Time band on In All Languages. Like
everything else here, it sparkles with energy, vitality, wit, and


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