Paul Bley: Barrage (2009)
Here, Bley's at the helm of a quintet with trumpeter Dewey Johnson (his only other recordings were Coltrane's Ascension and two Paul Murphy sessions), alto saxophonist Marshall Allen in a rare venture away from Sun Ra's Arkestra and a rhythm section of bassist Eddie Gomez and percussionist Milford Graves, recording nine days before their work on Giuseppi Logan's ESP debut and redefining the potential activity levels for a free jazz rhythm section. Gomez and Graves each play more, all the time, than most musicians soloing, a virtual orchestra of bass and drums. The band plays full out, almost all the time, on six themes by Carla Bley, spiky free jazz anthems that run between 4:26 and 5:51. The music is intense, taut, dense and usually blistering, like a terse volcano.
The theme of the opening "Batterie" burns off in a mere 12 seconds and the whole thing is over in 4:30 with solos from everybody in the quintet. Bley's abstract, tangential lines are both brilliant and brittle, continuous with the chattering, edgy horns. "Ictus," all polyrhythms and vocal inflections, makes for fascinating contrast with Bley's earlier version with the Jimmy Giuffre 3. Even when the band slows downfor the Stravinsky-reminiscent "And Now the Queen"the sound is corrosive.
Track Listing: Batterie; Ictus; And Now The Queen; Around Again; Walking Woman; Barrage.
Personnel: Marshall Allen: alto sax; Dewey Johnson: trumpet; Paul Bley: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Milford Graves: percussion.
Record Label: ESP Disk
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde