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Stephen Flinn/Bruce Eisenbeil/Tony Wren: Keep The Meter Running (2003)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

If this album had been released in 1974, it would've been exciting and would have advanced the sonic literature of guitar and ensemble musics to some degree. However, it's more recent and it does little in that regard. The trio plays well together, are all fine players, and are well versed in the vocabulary of extended technique unique to their respective instruments. Therein lies the problem with Keep The Meter Running. The parts should all add up, but what's lacking is a true sense of adventure and exploration, or a redefinition and refinement of those techniques developed by earlier practitioners of free improvisation. What we get with this recording is a retread without revision.

This trio's work is derivative and refers often to the styles of such players as Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser (circa Ice Death ), Keith Rowe, Derek Bailey, and Zoot Horn Rollo on the guitar part of the equation; Alan Silva, Terry Sines, early Gavin Bryars, and Peter Kowald on the part of the bass; and Gordon Kennedy, Tony Oxley, and Chris Cutler on the part of the percussion. What is notable about the musicians cited above is that they have all evolved a great deal since the '70s and their musics have evolved with them, thus extending the sonic literature of improvisation. The musicians on Keep The Meter Running would do well to learn that part of the free improvisation equation.

Another problem with this disc is the recording quality. The mix is guitar biased and sounds like it was recorded using equipment sold in 1974—maybe they were going for a retro feel on this one, but it simply falls flat. This would be a fun group to experience live doing just what they do here, but does not stand up to the scrutiny of the recorded document. They must work harder to create a compelling free improvisation album at this point in time. Visit Nine Winds Records at: members.aol.com/ ninewinds

Track Listing: Tenderloin; Dots 'N' Dashes; Absolutely; Wow; Soup Line; Expensive Flight; No Stars In Dublin; Feverfish; Flake O; Mafia Wife; Navel Ice; Extra Heat; Capitalize; Nite Cop; Belongs To JD; Houston St.

Personnel: Stephen Flinn-drums, percussion; Bruce Eisenbeil-electric & acoustic guitars; Tony Wren-acoustic bass

Record Label: Nine Winds Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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