(Edgetone)

An indefinable record, this one. Six instrumentalists (Hassan Abdur-Razzaq, Michael Carey, Marko Novachcoff, Joel Peterson, Kurt Prisbe, Steven Baker) on reeds, Laotian mouth organ, double bass and drums were conducted by pianist Thollem McDonas in two long “semi-structured improvisations” recorded at the Bohemian National Home in Detroit. The performances are totally instrumental, except for a short segment recited by Brad Duncan about Portuguese colonization of Africa. After listening thrice to the CD I still haven’t made up my mind for a definitive judgement. The alternance of extremely calm, almost silent moments and fully eruptive sections – not too many, indeed – is the main feature of the disc. Overall, it’s a relaxing affair which can be enjoyed as a rather coherent whole, without the need of looking for emerging voices or stand-out timbres. The inspiration behind the improvisational concept, it says in the press release, might be found in a meeting point of Stravinsky, Mingus and Oliveros, yet one struggles to associate what’s played to a name or a style. We could think to a jazz septet trying to push boundaries a little bit, exploring the no man’s land between chamber music and regulated chaos; indeed, those places seem to have been visited already, but this is meant as a “complimentary familiarity”. A good, if not exceptional album, demanding careful attention to catch all its features yet, at the same time, useful as a stimulating “presence” if you’re not in seriously inquisitive mood.

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