1 – Ravish Momin’s Trio Tarana – Miren (A Longing) (CF 087)
2- Scott Fields Ensemble – Denouement (CF 088)
3 – T.E.C.K. String Quartet – TECK (CF 089)
4 – Marc O’Leary -On the Shore (CF 091)
Portugal’s Clean Feed continues its prolific documentation of everything beyond, above and below what its press calls “the invisible frontiers of Jazz” with four strong new releases. Diverse and often exotic, the material is largely engaging and rewards repeated listening. I have always been a softy for all things drone, and the new Ravish Momin disc (1) delivers loads of it, courtesy of Brandon Terzic’s ude work. The opening moments of “What Reward” simply spring to life with buzz and energy, Terzic offering up one of the disc’s best solos. The others contribute with similar intensity, the two versions of “Fiza” demonstrating the levels of intricacy and detail reached by this trio’s new incarnation.
The first is somehow more mystical and brooding, while the second benefits from the Kalmanovitch/Bardfeld violin duo. Neither rendition is despensible, and the disc is marred only by a preternaturally loud and boomy kick drum. If it was Momin’s desired effect, it puts the rest of his superb playing sadly a bit out of focus.
Scott Fields’ (2) compositional world is forbidding at best, almost impenetrable at worst. Billed as a double trio and actually recorded ten years ago, Denouement lends itself more easily to immediate comprehension because of the stereo placement of the six players. Additionally, or maybe as a result, the textures are somewhat thinner, or more accessible,
than on more recent releases. The opening guitar duo breathes with refreshing transparency, and when the other instruments enter, it is as if each, aware of his doppelganger, is extra careful not to tread on any toes. The compositions themselves, structures rather than always strictly notated, also allow for more space and silence; simply listen to “Nothing had been Wrong” to spot the aesthetic. A beautiful bass glissando opens a meditative full group exploration, Kline and Parker’s guitar styles of a piece, even combining with high arco playing from the bassists to eerie effect. The album swings and lopes with downright pleasantness, not that any of the sure-fire improvisational prowess of other efforts is sacrificed— far from it! All complement each other quite nicely in what might be described as a harmolodic journey through structured improvisation.
While Fields and company explore subtle timbral modifications, T.E.C.K.’s disc (3) is a study in moment-to-moment timbral diversity. Having heard them in this year’s Vision Festival, I was curious to see if the controlled excitement generated by their set would translate to the recorded media. I was not disappointed; in fact, many details not apparent in the concert come off very well on disc. The group aesthetic is difficult to pin down, morphing as it does without respite. The harried opening of “Ripples” borders on the terrifying, a rather ironic state of affairs given its gentle title, while the introductory passages of “Swapfield” glisten with semistatic light. Each instrumentalist’s control of every sound is breathtaking, and the level of listening is no less impressive. Only a group exhibiting such connectivity could pull off the staccato sequences of “Levitation” with such ease and dexterity, and the album is absolutely brimming with such telepathic dialogue.
Mark O’Leary’s (4) approach to the guitar eschews, in large part, the detailed and precisely chiseled freneticisms of Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields, although On the Shore’s opening track might lead one to assume otherwise. Its cascades of runs, first clean and then with distortion, seem somewhat superfluous after an audition of the rest of the album. Much of O’Leary’s conception might fall under the category of colored silence, repetitions hanging over friendly voids. His use of effects is very tasteful, gorgeously long reverb enhancing much of the disc, and his volume pedal places him somewhere between Bill Frisell and Derek Bailey, a touch of Allen Holdsworth informing the slides and bends he uses to fine effect. Only the trumpet work disappoints just a bit, as tradition hangs a
bit heavy over it.
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