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John Heward Trio: Let Them Pass (2004)

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John Heward Trio: Let Them Pass No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This international trio of skilled improvisers reflects on the experiences of their expatriating pater familiae, some moving to Canada, some moving to the US. They explore their ancestors' leap into the unknown by leaping into these seven different impressions of passage. Drummer/leader John Heward and reedman Joe Giardullo share an association with Joe McPhee. Seattleite Bisio counts Andrew Hill, Vinny Golia, Sonny Simmons, and John Tchicai on his resume.

Heward's solo drums give a ceremonial then free swing introduction to the first pass. Giardullo swaggers in on a big tenor, playing multiphonic and multileveled. A wide vibrato gives way to fast high notes dancing above Heward, eventually wringing a unique vocabulary of sound from the sax. "Let Them Pass Two" has Heward busy on drums and Bisio bowing like a bee; Giardullo enters serene on flute. He stays little infected by the frenzy around him, content to improvise on Eastern European modes. Heward's shimmering rhythms and Bisio's active arco create a busy context for Giardullo's sober flute.

The third pass emerges from a soulful place with Giardullo mining emotional material. Bisio plucks overtime, outpacing his partners. Giardullo sings high and rarefied over Bisio's insistent pattern. He finds a low subtle sound on tenor and holds it, Bisio marching on, Heward roaming lightly. Pass Four has Giardullo seducing a bass clarinet with soft whispers, Bisio providing warm sympathies. Heward adds the right touch with quiet kalimba backing, Bisio sticks to rhythmic harmonics.

Giardullo and Bisio lock into minimalist extended techniques for Pass Five, Giardullo back on bass clarinet. Heward keeps his playing a secret until he picks up his attack, bringing the other two musicians out of their reverie. Soon a full-bodied improvisation takes shape rushing headlong. Six features Giardullo's low gorgeous alto flute played deeply through the balladic piece. Bisio bows low; Heward plays hand drums. Giardullo's raw tenor cry opens Pass Seven and Bisio takes off like lightning. Giardullo blasts through with a whiff of Pharoah Sanders, all three practicing advanced deep listening.

John Heward's Trio moves with fire and pop, producing consistently compelling improvisations and exceptional excursions into a creativity as fresh as a breaking wave.

Track Listing: Let Them Pass One; Let Them Pass Two; Let Them Pass Three; Let Them Pass Four; Let Them Pass Five; Let Them Pass Six; Let Them Pass Seven

Personnel: John Heward: drums and percussion; Mike Bisio: bass; Joe Giardullo: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, piccolo, alto flute

Record Label: Drimala Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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