FONT Music, The Paradox Trio/Bojan Z, Clean Feed Festival & The Fringe
An attempt to witness the classic line-up of The Fringe is derailed by the absence of this cultish Boston trio's drummer Bob Gullotti. Tenor saxophonist George Garzone and bassman John Lockwood are making a swift return to this Greenwich Village basement, but the evening's replacement sticksman is the Cuban Francisco Mela. This is no disadvantage, as he provides a dynamic sparring partner for Garzone, who spends much of the gig ramming up to the drumkit with his horn, blowing abrasive gusts into Mela's face, as if challenging him to play faster, harder and with more intricacy, as if he isn't already following the development of each piece with an uncanny precision. Poor old Lockwood is almost a bystander, so animated is Garzone by this new challenge. Mela is heard here in a more extreme free-form setting, hurling himself into the music with a massive passion. He'll hover his sticks over the skins, waiting for the optimum instant to pounce, cultivating a sideways sense of apparent arrhythmia, rarely delivering the expected accent, but always surprising with an exact hit in a fresh percussive space. Garzone's tone is fulsome and forceful, old- fashioned and wild in the same breath, with rounded tone and growling articulation. There's a mysterious combination within The Fringe that's in sharp contrast to Garzone, Lockwood and Mela's work in other formations, something in the band-name that nurtures extremity and eclipse.