(Triple Bath)

“The hidden” is the first release by a quartet of improvising artists coming from the Michigan improvised-jazz scene. The instrumentation is divided as follows: Johnston on bass, shenhai and wooden flutes, Gilmore on vibes, marimba, saz, cheng, percussion, Khoury on violin and Lucas on cello. Nine tracks who mix Eastern traditional influences in conjunction with the contributors’ differentiated backgrounds yet, unquestionably, appear like an evolved “popular chamber music” spiced with intercontinental elements, definitely better than the bells and whistles which many so called multiethnic collectives show nowadays. The majority of the pieces moves quite deliberately, no stress or hurrying up, everybody (including the listeners) free to choose a line to follow or a couple of details to observe, as everything remains clearly articulated and extremely comprehensible throughout, the interlocking fragments generated by the most dissonant melodic factors as well. Gilmore’s vibraphone in combination with Johnston’s mysterious bass figures in “Prayer for Maury Coles” might recall a variation on Gary Burton’s work with Astor Piazzolla, and the subsequent “Hidden 10” is a gratifying example of virtuoso playing in a pseudo-esoteric context by all the participants. “Sweet Saba interlude” is a magnificent slow track where the parts sound all but scored such is the perfect interaction among the players, while “Orient” is a ritualistic meditation halfway through traditional and contemporary raga. Not really a groundbreaking effort but very well crafted and played, worth of attention especially in virtue of its limited availability (96 copies).