Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Trio Viriditas –
Waxwebwind@ebroadway (CF 003)
The most energetic side of Alfred Harth’s creativity, the one which fathers his incredibly inventive solo efforts, should never let us forget that the man was grown and trained, first and foremost, as a jazz player. An album like this is here to remind us, and it’s just unfortunate that this trio does not exist anymore as, sadly, bassist Wilber Morris (brother of composer Lawrence “Butch” Morris”) left us in 2002, the same year in which the record was released. Additional material by these gentlemen will see the light in 2008, though – on this very same label. Harth maintains that Trio Viriditas would have had a great future, because the special chemistry between him, Morris and percussionist Kevin Norton was felt as something truly special. In the latter’s words, “…each concert was a revelation of sonic, formal and even inter-personal possibilities”, the music indeed possessing a kind of “warm” vibe that’s rarely heard in contemporary jazz and remains evident also during apparently hostile fragment: check “Braggadocio”, with its convulsive intersections between Norton’s mallets and Harth’s piquant phrases, Morris calmly swinging a steady pulse in the background. The bassist defined this group as a “democratic working unit”, and indeed there is no doubt about the perfect equilibrium characterizing the material, which to these ears stands out as a well-tempered mixture of reciprocal understanding, immediate intuition and refined technique. “Auda-city”, for example, begins with a sparse dialogue between Morris and Norton, in which Harth enters almost without being noticed, his sax a gentle breeze of longitudinal savoir-faire that furnishes the music with a touch of alternative elegance. “Starbucks” and “Starbucks Variation” would have made Eric Dolphy quite envious; both were penned by AH, who at that time lived in New York’s Lower East Side and wrote the first compositions for the trio in the local restaurants. The only track authored by Morris is the quasi-ritualistic “Interstice”, where the bassist accompanies with his voice a dissonant invocation underlined by Norton’s elastic articulations, while Harth keeps one foot in the tradition and the other in a “no tomorrow” consciousness, his tenor calling out souls from graveyards in an energizing crescendo. The chamber-tinged “Fuer die Katz’s Deli(ght)” is another example of Mr.23’s versatility (by the way, the album title refers to the internet of course, and “www” is thrice the 23rd letter in the alphabet…), a filamentous liaison that ends rather abruptly after making us salivate in expectancy, while “Cue(ball) #1” is the only track credited to Kevin Norton, six minutes of ample intervals and “withdrawn extroversion”, all players very concentrated throughout. “Major Airports” meshes the musicians’ instrumental voices in a final jam where Morris and Harth wave to each other while directed to different circuits that, inexplicably, lead them to the same destination, with Norton using all his palette’s colours to depict the unstable passing of a by now in(di)visible time. The appropriate seal on a noble release.

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