David Borgo: Reverence for Uncertainty (2005)
The simple cardboard sleeve of Reverence for Uncertainty is decorated with what looks like clouds against a sunset, evoking a feeling of openness and freedom, of detachment from the ground and the mundane. The music is quite remarkable and Borgo is quite a player, with a wonderful sound and total control over his instruments.
According to the notes, all tracks are collective improvisations while tracks #2, 4, 8, and 12 involve pre-composed material by Borgo and tracks 2 and 4 were recorded live. The live material uses the largest ensembles and provides the most "fun,"? having that atmosphere that only comes from performing live in front of an audience.
Borgo's range is extremely wide. In the duets he can range from being a total Romantic, as on "Miko,"? as sexy and beautiful a ballad as I have ever heard, to "Rivers of Consciousness,"? which has a more oblique line with pungent modern harmonies; but both of which remind me of Greg Osby (one of my favorite sax players). The opening "Sum-Thing from No-Thing"? is an ethereal duet which evolves into a swinging, bluesy thing that's matched on the last track, "Beantown Bounce."? "Conversations with the Not-Self"? is a overdubbed "duet"? (Borgo with his not-self) that has a klezmerish quality about it. "Tenochtitlan"? consists more of nature sounds played against small percussion that gradually builds to steady rhythm. "In the Land of In-Between"? has some of the eeriest percussion sounds ever, and the whole track has a floating quality.
The two trio of reed tracks explore different uses of the similar timbres: "Swarm"? evokes a feeling of insects (naturally), sometimes colliding, while "Sync"? is a study of the interactions of close pitches and the over- and undertones created by their interference.
The two live tracks are both the longest and the most extroverted. "On The Five,"? after some drumming that almost states a pulse, is announced by a multi-sax anthem that brings applause and provides the kernel for the rest of the improvisation. There is actual harmony and a definite key, allowing for easier listening to and following of the many "backwards"? sounds and other techniques as the players twist the theme to pieces. "Oddity"? features Lewis' only appearance on the record, and its theme is a raucous, driving, odd-beat vamp, which nevertheless dissolves. Lewis is simply amazing and his trombone often sounds like anything but, plus I could swear I heard "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."? The density grows and the pace quickens, only to fade halfway through for some almost unaccompanied extended soloing by Lewis as the other players join in, peaking to a frantic finish, until the theme reappears.
As with all of this kind of music, it might take a few listens to get "inside"? it and feel where it fits within you. This disc really grew on me; it turned out not to be "hard"? and I ended up enjoying it immensely. For an entirely different take on group improvisation from some of the same players, see Ellen Weller's Spirits, Little Dreams and Improvisations (Circumvention Music, 2005).
Track Listing: Sum-Thing from No-Thing (3:51), On The Five (11:04), Sync (6:31), Oddity (12:23), Tenochtitlan (6:55), In the Land of In-Between (4:59), Conversations with the Not-Self (3:21), Miko (7:42), Swarm (2:03), Cosmology (3:44), Reverence for Uncertainty (4:00), Rivers of Consciousness (2:50), Beantown Bounce (2:30)
Personnel: David Borgo - soprano, alto, tenor saxes, chalumeau, low whistle, Nathan Hubbard - drum set, Jason Robinson - tenor sax, Bertram Teretzky - bass, Andy Connell - soprano sax, Robert Reigle - tenor sax, George Lewis - trombone, Rick Helzer - piano, Gustavo Aguilar - percussion, Anthony Davis - piano