Darren Johnston / Fred Frith / Devin Hoff / Larry Ochs: Reasons for Moving (2007)
Reasons for Moving is what an improvised session should sound like: thoughtful, seamless, dynamic, comfortable.
"Dawn & The Flat Irons" begins as a conversation between trumpet (Darren Johnston) and bass (Devin Hoff). When drummer Ches Smith comes in, the tune branches off, allowing Smith, Fred Frith (electric guitar) and Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino saxophones) to play more sparsely.
The softer tracks on the CD are more effective. In "Deep North," Smith and Ochs create an intense quiet that lends depth and gravitas to the entire album and forces the listener to contemplate each laborious note and the silence nestled between them. In raucous songs like "Speed Trap," however, clashing instruments stifle the musicians' intentions. The quintet layers on notes that don't complement each other and Frith's distorted guitar riffs seem out of place. He does seem more comfortable though in "Biocarbon Man," where his distortions find solace in Smith's arduous drumbeats and Ochs' spacious sax.
The title track shows off the quintet's wonderful dynamic. Here, the relationship between Frith, Ochs and Smith is very similar to the one in "Biocarbon Man": Johnston's languorous trumpet harmonizes with Ochs' probing sax beautifully and Hoff's bass complements Frith's guitar flawlessly.
Throughout Reasons for Moving, it is evident that the members of the quintet are very aware of each participants' thought processes yet also manage to challenge and even surprise one another.
Track Listing: Passing Fields; Dawn & The Flat Irons; Biocarbon Man; Deep North; Bicarbonate Of Soda, Man; Speed Trap; Distant Cities; QEW; Reasons for Moving.
Personnel: Darren Johnston: trumpet; Fred Frith: electric guitar; Devin Hoff: bass; Larry Ochs: tenor and sopranino saxophones; Ches Smith: drums.