Even in a city known for its vibrant free jazz scene, Chicago's Boykin, Seigfried & Reed have established a strong presence. Individually, their resumes boast tenures with a who's who of AACM all-stars. Reedman David Boykin has garnered high praise on various projects, including a recent release with Active Ingredients. Bassist Dr. Karl EH Seigfried works symphonic orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, besides his jazz gigs, and earned his doctorate with a study of Wilbur Ware. Together, they host the city's only Avant-Garde Jam Session Sundays at the Empty Bottle. Their well oiled empathy takes them through unexpected changes on seven improvised performances whose titles are their times.
A gentle vibratory greeting, "1:55" has bells, bowed bass, and contemplative soprano sax spiraling into "3:10." Reed brush smacks cymbal and drums as Seigfried triggers tension bow tapping strings. Boykin whistles a high tune that grows into "8:09." Seigfried and Reed kick into serious exploratory gear, Boykin floating above the fray. His sustained arpeggios provide a continuity around which the rhythm section swarms like aural ants. Reed keeps a tight, fast rim riff going for Seigfried's solo.
While his soprano seemed ornamental to Seigfried and Reed's excursions, his a capella bass clarinet opens "8:23," soon ushering in a pacing bass line and crisp drumming. Boykin's musings stay mostly low, indulging the rich beauties of the instrument. Boykin roughs up the deep reed on "5:35." The trio rolls the sounds around before bass and drums straighten out for a sprint with Boykin peppering extended high runs with surprise low notes.
Chewy multiphonics and buzzy highs flit around Seigfried's muscular bass to open "7:40." He then takes an extended bass meditation, thoughtfully generating variations. Reed builds a rapid fire on "7:42," giving Boykin rhythmic support for his inspired extended tenor run.
What seems vaguely amphorous in the beginning quickly coalesces into focused drive. Boykin suffers slightly throughout from a weak place in the mix, but makes his point with strength of vision.
Note: this disc is available from Thrill Jockey on the web.
Personnel: David Boykin, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone; Dr. Karl EH Seigfried, acoustic bass; Michael Reed, drums.