Alto and soprano saxophonist Jon Lloyd explains about this release that "the compositions for this group were designed to be played with less of a pulse-driven approach than my earlier work with the Jon Lloyd Quartet - the ebb and flow of the music takes place organically according to the direction each performer wishes to take."
Paul Clarvis is a first-rate percussionist for this kind of music. Most of the tracks on Four and Five vary quite widely in tempo, and sometimes approach a regular pulse (as in the beginning of the title track and the lone cover, Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane") without ever quite getting there. But Clarvis deploys - with tremendous imagination - an array of bangles and garlands that place in context all the accelerations and decelerations of Lloyd, cellist Stan Adler, and bassist Marcio Mattos.
It's an unusual and highly effective front line. Adler and Mattos interact extraordinarily well. Adler is especially adept, with his somewhat lighter-toned instrument, at working with both Lloyd and Mattos: bowing in the upper reaches he can play counterpoint to Lloyd's reed lines, and then reach down and wind around Mattos' bass as well.
The title track is the longest and most indicative of the range of this group. Its title seems to refer, at least initially, to a series of four- and five-note motifs that gradually grow and sprawl over the eleven and a half minute length of the piece. Lloyd, on soprano, ventures occasionally into the whirling circular breathing approach perfected by Evan Parker, underscored by sustained tones from the strings. Lloyd tends to break up the whirling with melodic fragments more than does Parker.
"Jump" seems also to pay tribute to Parker, or to Parker/Guy/Lytton, or at least to the coloristic arhythmic percussion of that groundbreaking ensemble. "Zilch, Zero, Zed" and "Method" suggest in turn a tribute to Anthony Braxton, with stalking atonal lead-ins plus (on the former) the striking juxtaposition of Lloyd's jittery reed and the arch bowing of the cello and bass and (on the latter) a herky-jerky line played more or less in fragmenting unison. "Blues For" is a bravura grooveless soprano field holler. "Xis" is a related form, with a call-and-response type opener. And the closing Ellington piece is made to fit in with the rest: decontextualized, destabilized, and played wonderfully.
A great disc from a magnificent quartet.
Jon Lloyd, as, ss; Stan Adler, clo; Marcio Mattos, b; Paul Clarvis, d, perc.
Track listing: Jump / Four and Five / Zilch, Zero, Zed / Blues For / Method / Xis / Take the Coltrane.