(Family Vineyard)

Paul Flaherty (alto & tenor sax), Chris Corsano (drums), Greg Kelley (trumpet) and Matt Heyner (acoustic bass) release their second CD as Cold Bleak Heat, showing that they can teach a thing or two to improvisers everywhere. Although this music was recorded in 2003, it sounds like it was created one hour ago. “The voice of people is the voice of God” attacks almost immediately with a blowout, a bobbing-and-weaving assault in which Flaherty and Kelley spit pieces of lungs into their instruments while Corsano and Heyner create a lattice of chanting ebulliency and Last Exit-like powerful rumble, the whole flowing into a more meditative finale where the four voices assume a more colloquial, yet always energizing stance. “Should we destroy the hubble?” begins with a Kelley solo whose inventiveness would make a blackbird envy, soon joined by Heyner’s nervous arcoing in a tense conversation, with Corsano skipping and strolling over a mind-boggling polyrhythmic vision. Flaherty comes last to make sure that a feeble ray of lyricism remains visible, but soon is beckoned into that cloud of exhilarating freedom. Nocturnal echoes are heard at the start of “Mugged by a glacier”, a 21-minute piece whose initial intimacy is progressively transformed into a groovy declaration of independence to be affixed in the main streets of contemporary jazz. Here Corsano shows why he’s considered one of “da men” in modern drumming: he sustains and fights, always remaining in complete control of his dynamic fluency, while Kelley destroys anyone who dares to whisper “Miles Davis” with a porous tone that leaks rage and consciousness at one and the same time. An impressive showcase of horny-handed emancipation from stylish insecurity is given in “Pound cake”, Flaherty’s contorted howls and Heyner’s outrageous lines at the basis of a fabulous turmoil, while “A white bandaged head in the shadow of death” parallels mourning shadows and severe-sounding elegies in a sonic organism replete with insubordinate sensitivity, the four comrades virtually ready to bare their soul for an ideal of purity, then launching in yet another battle of iron wills and self-defenses that fuse into a roaring corporeal entity. The album is ended by “To understand all is to forgive all”: Corsano rolls and bangs to open discourses, then Flaherty and Kelley shake hands and walk together for a while remembering the good times, while Heyner intones a contrapuntal texture that comes and goes. They can’t resist to their inner urge, though, allowing themselves to enjoy a last opportunity of showing their proud musicianship, bathed in talent and expressiveness. Call this stuff “free jazz” if you like, but this record is simply a masterpiece.

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