James Finn: Plaza de Toros (2005)
I heard a voice, or thought I heard a voice, say something in my ear as I dreamed during the first spin of saxophonist James Finn's new recording. "There is plenty room in my father's house, announced the jazz prophet. "You see improvisation, 'true improvisation' makes room for one more voice calling out into the night.
Whether your particular jazz prophet is John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, or Joe McPhee, the music of this new (to many) saxophonist strikes an original and logically organized jazz chord.
With prior releases on CIMP and Cadence Records and upcoming discs on his own Gingko Leaf Records, Finn's coming-out party on Clean Feed is quite a revelatory session. Together with bassist Dominic Duval (Cecil Taylor) and drummer Warren Smith (Gil Evans to Julius Hemphill), Finn reveals a talent and passion for improvised music played at an extraordinarily high level.
Comparisons are unfair, but so is trying to read about an aural experience. Surely you feel Finn has absorbed the music of Albert Ayler as you listen to this music, especially the opening track, "Toreo de Capa. The album was created to track a Spanish bullfight. The fanfare and introduction of the bull has plenty of pomp and circumstance. Yet the circumstance here is a nasty and prideful ceremony. Finn plays it for what it is: the wavering reality, the march, the opening of the art of the matador.
Duval's bass strumming calls to order the plaza in the second track. Sure and confident is the approach. Honor is bestowed and the games begin.
Finn catapults into the upper register not unlike Ivo Perelman, but he also rattles the borders a la Evan Parker on "El Tercio de Varas, while Duval covers the left channel with some haunting bow work. The track, perhaps the crowning piece on the disc, is the quietest, yet the most telling of the entire recording. Expertly engineered by Finn himself, the music applies texture and substance rarely felt outside of the live experience.
Fans of the saxophonist Joe Giardullo will easily gravitate to Finn's music. Like Giardullo, Finn's improvisational concepts follow a natural order and can be digested and appreciated without much effort. In other words, he takes you out there and you are happy to go.
Track Listing: Toreo de Capa; Plaza de Toros; The Phantom Bull of Seville; El Tercio de Varas; Eyes of Angelina; El Tercio de Vanderillas; El Tercio de Muleta; La Estocada; Toro Bravo.
Personnel: James Finn - Tenor Saxophone; Dominic Duval - Bass, Warren Smith - Drums.