Carl Maguire: Floriculture (2006)
The fact that this quartet is apparently a working band is abundantly obvious. The program of music they perform comes entirely from the pen of Maguire, and such is the organic nature of the band that the impression is of music written with these particular musicians in mind, as opposed to a bassist, an alto saxophonist, etc. Thus, Chris Mannigan's alto sax work is entirely his own, for all of the faint echoes of Anthony Braxton, whilst bassist Trevor Dunn makes his presence felt in places where a musician less attuned to Maguire's music might simply miss opportunities.
For a group of this size and makeup, the music they make is no little distance from what might be imagined. "Egocentric," for example, breaks down at one point into an extended duet for piano and bass before Dan Weiss adds further colors on cymbals and Mannigan takes a solo which defies all the rules in terms of what might be called correct virtuosity. The likes of "Chamber Social" highlight just how important familiarity must be both in terms of Maguire's compositional method and group conception.
If nothing else, this music is profoundly a group music and not just yet another showcase for virtuoso soloing over accompaniment that ticks all the right boxes whilst delivering little else. Simultaneously the complexity of this music is entirely free of self-consciousness, and experience suggests that this in as achievement in itself; it makes demands at the same time as it rewards close attention.
The fact that Floriculture was recorded in August of 2002 in Brooklyn and is only just seeing the light of day might well be a sad reflection of the times we live in. The point is perhaps emphasized by the fact that it's taken a Dutch label to get it out at all. Leaving aside any debate that might provoke, this is music that possesses an overwhelming percentage of the attributes that make for stimulating listening.
Track Listing: Egocentric; Denizen Green - For Mark Dresser; Jilly; Chamber Social; Subsurface; Ermes Marana - After Italo Calvino; The Nord Lord - For Gabriel.
Personnel: Chris Mannigan: alto saxophone; Carl Maguire: piano; Trevor Dunn: bass; Dan Weiss: drums.