Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Scott Fields Ensemble – Beckett (CF 069)
“Beckett” was recorded by a strong quartet consisting of Scott Fields (electric guitar), John Hollenbeck (percussion), Scott Roller (cello) and Matthias Schubert (tenor sax). The leader uses “post-free jazz” and “exploratory music” as definitions to help us poor reviewers writing about his vision, in this case setting Samuel Beckett’s short plays in terms of sonic rendition. The CD contains five tracks of what one could call “radical comprovisation”, a no-genre-all-genres series of structural possibilities for instruments to dialogue calmly or look for litigation. On a first approach we could think about entities like Curlew or Doctor Nerve; sometimes things get a little more complicated, though. Fields privileges a clean timbre on his axe, which is fundamental to maintain absolute clarity in his pretty entangled lines. Roller excavates imaginative figurations while remaining an ideal partner for dissonant unisons and ever-evolving, intertwining dissertations with Schubert’s non-conservative vocabulary. Hollenbeck is a bright-minded participant to a collectively sensitive interplay that never ceases to amaze, alternating basic patterns, uncontrollable rolls and sheer bedlam with self-controlled gestural balance and almost exhilarating musicianship. Everything in this disc tends to the instantaneous generation of attitude-permeated linear and textural counterpoint, whose results add spice and intelligence to a music which is only apparently difficult to penetrate, revealing instead many layers and secrets that will make adventurous listeners seriously happy. An advertisement for well-regulated iconoclastic playing, “Beckett” is one of those releases carrying the same weight of a powerful political statement. Listen and learn, then decide if you still need the velvet touch of deadly boring “jazz”.

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