No one gets a free ride in life. Sooner or later, everyone ever born has to deal with their own share of obstacles, rocky roads and missteps. it is in those times that our true selves emerge, our mettle tested and formulated. In those moments, the best we can do is stay true to our selves and our beliefs, and surround ourselves with a community of strong likeminded individuals and comrades.
On “Hard Knocks”, bassist and composer Sean Conly does just that. In a trio setting with Satoshi Takeishi (drums) and Michaël Attias (alto saxophone), Sean sets out on a musical adventure with his longtime friends and collaborators of roughly 20 years. These stalwart improvisors fill every moment with surprise, energy and emotion as they navigate a new series of compositions Mr. Conly wrote for them. . Past, present and future are engaged and mixed together in this organic and elastic trio.
Whether they navigate thru a modern take on the blues (Loose Screws), or swing thru freedom and form (Hard Knocks), or embrace a cinematic take on the slow ballad (Undertow), the trio has a compulsion to simultaneously explore the roots and yet play something very much alive and organic. This puts Conly and his companions very far from the classic mainstream / avant-garde equation. This means you find them, and the music in “Hard Knocks”, all encompassing, nothing being refused on principle. The use of open forms isn’t necessarily in conflict with the rigour of the structures, the same way the attention to spaces doesn’t endanger the drive or the intensity of a particular improvisation. The name of the game, here, is inclusion, and it sounds beautiful.