Don Heckman, writing for the Los Angeles Times
a couple of weeks back, called 2002 "a year of exhale in jazz, a period of relatively low energy."
Humbug! He must be listening to major labels. If he checked out Pi Recordings (Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet's The Year of the Elephant
and Fieldwork's Your Life Flashes
); Accurate Records (Either Orchestra's Afro-Cubism
); or Louie Records (Rich Halley's Objects
and The Tone Sharks' Intention
), he might just change his tune.
And those examples are just a surface scratch.
Boxholder Records put out a handful of very energetic and innovative CDs in 2002; big, deep inhalations: Few and Far Between by Few/Fefer/Morris; Seasoning the Greens by Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble; The Cosmosamatics II, just to name a few. All in that "low energy" year 2002.
Now Boxholder opens the new year with Art Spirit by reedman Joe Giardullo and guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi. These two musicians contain and channel high musical energy on this improvisational duet outing. It's free jazz characterized by a disciplined approach to improv, with truly fluid interplay between Giardullo's reeds (alto and soprano sax, bass clarinet and flute) and the cosmic and supersonic sounds of Berardi's electric guitar.
Berardi may have the most distinctive guitar voice out there... nobody like him. Electronic drones and washes, like a hopped-up string quartet. On a blindfold test, certain interludes make it difficult to even identify the instrument that's making the sounds. Sometimes they are horn-like (French horn, flugelhorn), or making noises as though he's somehow bowing the electrified strings. And at times in "Pietrasanta," Giardullo's bass clarinet sounds as if it's dueting with another deep reed rather than six steel strings.
Glowing chords, intricate reed work snaking around resonant electric washes of sound. Indescribable stuffthe musicians say as much in the liner notes.
Somebody send Art Spirit to Mr. Heckman.
Personnel: Sangeeta Michael Berardi, guitar; Joe Giardullo, alto and soprano saxes,
flute and bass clarinet