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Pam and Gary Windo: Avant Gardeners (2008)

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Pam and Gary Windo: Avant Gardeners No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

One second into this collection of '70s performances—one of a small slew of Windo compilation discs released over the past decade—and there's absolutely no question about the kind of terrain these adventurers would be negotiating. Or perhaps to be more accurate, there's every question that this kind of freedom continues to ask.

Both Windos—pianist Pam and reedman Gary, who passed away in 1992—were from Brighton in the UK and were part of the explosion of free-form energy that occurred there in the '70s. They were connected with people like Robert Wyatt, Nick Mason (of Pink Floyd) and Chris McGregor and later, in the Woodstock area of New York, even hooked up with NRBQ! But here, in '70s England, the emphasis is on finding regions deep in their musical psyches that pulse in a kind of chaos but truly liberate as well.

There are three groupings on this disc: the first is just the duo; the second adds percussionist Frank Perry and the last is a quartet with bassist Harry Miller and drummer Louis Moholo.

The duet section—recorded at an art college in Kent—opens at full throttle with Gary exploring the range of his tenor and Pam finding a way both to complement and find new spaces. It's an uncompromising workout and listeners need to attend to it fully to avoid being put off by what might be oversimplified as 'noise.'

The madness expands to take on Perry for five tunes that continue the sense of an almost archaeological dig into the origin of sounds. For those listeners looking for order or structure, you're advised that you need to find your own. Perry is a colorist and is often oddly restrained but never fails to find his place. For the final selection, "Maiden Stone," South Africans Moholo and Miller join for what is the most 'orderly' romp of the disc. Though the story is still one of creation unfolding, the bass and drums help find more of a shape for the disorder.

On none of these performances is there really a traditional sense of soloing. These are players who are trying to talk together while getting to truly difficult yet elemental areas of communication.

Track Listing: We're On Our Way/Primal Stream; Roarin'; Shepp Heard; Bass Space; Frank 'n Myrrh/Incensed; Maiden Stone.

Personnel: Gary Windo: tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Pam Windo: piano; Frank Perry: percussion; Harry Miller: bass; Louis Moholo: drums.

Record Label: Reel Recordings

Style: Beyond Jazz


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