How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Mysticism abounds when the DC Improvisers Collective (DCIC) holds a musical séance. The performers delve into remote realms, conjuring up inventive music with sorcerous cunning. This searching association of experimental artists affords its members the opportunity for open-ended exploration in various-sized group scenarios.
On this recording, the DCIC features four free spirits. Mike Sebastian awakens the ghosts of music present and future through his fierce woodwind flights; Jon Ozment offers weighty acoustic and electric piano brews; Mark Merella executes jarring percussive resonance; and Jonathan Matis adds bracing stimuli through his guitar. Electronics play an important role as well, with Ozment, Merella, and Matis each negotiating the amplified terrain for special effects.
The program, as could be expected from the band’s name, is fully improvised. These instant composers thrive on the spontaneity of the moment, allowing their innate sense of adventure to dictate the direction the music takes. It goes off in multiple streams of consciousness that slide into hallucinatory states, often through alternating pairings that fold into full quartet activity.
For example, Merella pumps incendiary fuel to drive Sebastian into forceful areas in two duets, and he supplies more subtle nuances in his matching of ambiance with Ozment. One trio selection without Sebastian is awash in eerie vibrations. The band rises to its creative best on the full ensemble tunes that comprise the majority of the recording. With all improvisers interacting as a unit, the music peaks in waves of otherworldliness.
Each title develops through the probing and suggestion of the players. Sebastian speaks in multiple tongues, allowing his bass clarinet to supply spirituality or his saxophones to emit eruptive energy. Merella floods the field with a plethora of exotic percussive tones, injecting rattling, clanking, and other stimuli into the concoction. Ozment sends a jarring message from his piano or keyboards, painting a voluminous soundscape in the process. Matis’s guitar efforts offer contrasting reactions; he releases smoldering juices or calming melodiousness into the group context.
While sound in its purest form plays an important role, the pieces display continuity with little need for silence and space as support. The recording flows in suite-like fashion as one collective expression.
From jarring abruptness to passive serenity, the DCIC responds to the moment at hand to create music of unique character and demanding quality. Aided by electronic supplements, it becomes especially vibrant. Each musician stays in touch with his psyche and responds to the circulating spirits of the others on this compelling example of unrestrained group meditation.
Track Listing: Invocation (6:55) / Duo No. 1 (6:34) / Stirring (10:01) / Duo No. 2 (4:44) / Trio (8:50) / Ritual (5:46) /
Duo No. 3 (4:29) / Mural (4:37) / Feldman Meets Dolphy (5:09) / And Then. (13:00).
Personnel: Mike Sebastian-tenor & soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Jon Ozment-piano, keyboards,
electronics; Mark Merella-percussion, live electronics, short wave radio; Jonathan Matis-guitar,
electronics. Recorded: January 17, 2003, January 31, 2003, February 13, 2003, Takoma Park, MD;
March 28, 2003, Washington, DC.
Frank has been a writer of live and recorded music for decades, having published in both hard copy and on-line magazines, and currently he documents the live jazz scene through photography, as evidenced by his AAJ photo collection of about 2,000 shots.