Pam & Gary Windo: Avant Gardeners (2008)
Here's another excuse to exalt the good people at Reel Recordings for their efforts in sourcing hard-to-find archival material and audio restoration. Time hasn't been kind to Gary Windo in particular, and the scarcity of his recorded legacy makes this remastered release, culled from live recordings from the 1970s, even more important. As a tenor saxophonist, Gary Windo comes on like a force of nature, while the individuality of his bass clarinet work is thrown into relief as stark as it's ever been.
This release raises the profile of Pam Windo's piano playing considerably, and it's clear from the opening track, "We're On Our Way/Primal Stream," that any further attention this might afford her is long overdue. The couple is sympathetic to the point of pronounced empathy, and the resulting music, for all of its intensity, has a highly personal air, making for the notion of a really close duo engaged in constructive dialog.
This notion of self-containment within the duo is also valid in the setting of the trio with percussionist Frank Perry, who performs on both "Roarin'" and "Shepp Heard." Perry's extended percussive palette lends the music an expansive air while the Windos both deny logical flow and highlight the joys of free play. Perry alone produces some surprisingly serene music on the coupling of "Frank 'n Myrrh" and "Incensed" which only goes to highlight the pratfalls of pigeonholing before Gary Windo imposes his will on his tenor sax and Pam Windo gets galvanic at the keyboard. Again, the effect is both incendiary and considered.
In the company of bassist Harry Miller and drummer Louis Moholo, the Windos are as close as they ever gets to convention on the closing "Maiden Stone, but the rhythm duo has more than sufficient ability to give the music an incendiary edge. The results are again remarkablenot least because the music remains considerably more than the kind of macho posturing that is sometimes the sole hallmark of this approach. There is an abundant range of dynamics on offer here, justifying the importance of historical delving when it comes to documenting that multi-faceted thing which is the music.
Track Listing: We're On Our Way/Primal Stream; Roarin'; Shepp Heard; Bass Space; Frank 'n Myrrh/Incensed; Maiden Stone.
Personnel: Gary Windo: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Pam Windo: piano; Harry Miller: bass (6); Frank Perry: percussion (2-5); Louis Moholo: drums (6).