Borah Bergman / Lol Coxhill / Paul Hession: Acts of Love (2006)
In the annals of free improvisation, there really isn't a parallel for the way the Bergman/Coxhill/Hession trio feels. Though Coxhill's soprano multiphonics and circular breathing do, at their most vicious, suggest his countryman Evan Parker, his senses of spacing and phraseology are more akin to Steve Lacy in their delicate surefootedness. Whereas some time ago a Coxhill date suggested whimsical experimentation, his work here is as direct and powerful a series of statements as you're likely to hear in free improvisation (one can't forget he was, however briefly, a member of the Brotherhood of Breath).
Bergman is utterly romantic, pure of tone and has an uncanny ability to let his notes hang without histrionics, while Hession creates a roiling, lickety-split tumult of accent and activity underneath and around his compatriots. Hession's approach at times recalls Milford ("110 ) and at other times Murray, an intricate web of free-time brushwork and spare curlicue that erupt into a pan-rhythmic tidal wave with little provocation; his duo with Wuppertal saxophonist Hans-Peter Hiby (The Real Case, Senti 1988) is another gem.
The trio surges with trills, scattershot and rollicking chords from the get-go, Bergman's erudite classicism and blocky ragtime references melding perfectly with agitated bird calls and unbroken rhythmic chatter, halting on a nearly unaccompanied piano solo with scraped cymbal backing. On "102, halting chirps and rhythmic play from Coxhill and Bergman become mirrored sentiments as Hession builds a shadow play of tension underneathonly to drop out halfway through. Despite the seeming hub of urbane activity he's prone to, Hession's interplay is subtle but direct enough to be noticeable when absent.
This is not a record solely of rigour, howeverthe playful collusion between Coxhill and Bergman on "103 is just that, and Coxhill appropriates a hackneyed pop-song phrase in "101 that sticks out like a cockeyed sore thumb halfway in. Acts of Love is a record of balance and power, but the trio knows its repertoire and where to stretch it most. Hopefully this disc is not a one-time meeting.
Track Listing: Act of Love 101; Act of Love 102; Act of Love 103; Act of Love 104; Act of Love 105; Act of Love 106; Act of Love 107; Act of Love 108; Act of Love 109; Act of Love 110.
Personnel: Borah Bergman: piano; Lol Coxhill: soprano saxophone; Paul Hession: percussion.
Record Label: Mutable Music
Style: Modern Jazz