(Lenka Lente)

Tenor saxophonist Carl Smith’s E.C.F.A. collective came to my attention in 2005 thanks to their excellent “Die Fäden”, which is now followed by an equally intense chapter. Reportedly influenced by “late 90s free jazz in NYC, free improvisation and modern compositional techniques and traditional jazz”, this music resplends of intelligence and heart applied without inhibitions to every single note played. The emphatic phrasing of the Carl Smith/Holland Hopson sax tandem is obviously a strong point of the group, but it is the fine contrapuntal texture between the reeds and James Alexander’s entangling viola that renders all pieces appreciable both by “jazz” audiences and aficionados of the “new thing” – whatever that means. Jason Friedrich’s variegated drumming sustains the rhythm and contributes to the visceral feeling of the whole, a mixture of maturity and genuine productivity which affirms this beautiful Texan ensemble’s unique vision.