Regals: The Double-Duo Sessions (2012)
Context is everything, with both Rosser and Eagles drawing from a variety of influences, but if there's a single link between them, it's Torn, a guitarist whose experiments in color and sound are a significant touchstone for the quartet improvs, in particular the closing "Sonata Form At All," the group's most flat-out aggressive track. Both Rosser and Eagles process their guitars nearly beyond recognition, while Wittet and Froman create a turbulent maelstrom in, out and around them, gradually settling into a fiery pulse over which the two guitarists create otherworldly sonics and Jimi Hendrix-ian feedback, as the nine-minute piece fades to black. Hendrix is another marker, too; in particular on "JH al coda," another dense improv that touches on Experience-era Hendrix with a direct reference to the late psychedelic axe-master's near-sidelong epic, "1983... (A Mermaid I Should Turn to Be)," from Electric Ladyland (Reprise, 1968), as the song reaches its ultimate conclusion.
But it's not all electrified and searing; six miniatures, numerically named in Esperanto ("Unua" through "Sesa") act as diminutive respites, acoustic guitar duets that range from the rhythmically cross-purposed yet folksy "Sesa" to the more static, harmonic and slightly skewed "Kvina." "Kvara" is odder still, with tapped body and tapped strings creating an almost dulcimer-like texture, but a repetitive motif gradually emerges, which provides a brief foundation before dissolving back into the ether.
Of the three composed pieces (two by Eagles, one by Rosser), "BC-ing-ya" is the most touchingdedicated to another Ottawa drummer, Lorne Kelly, who passed away far too soon in 2009form emerging from its rubato intro as a series of arpeggios redolent of guitarist John Abercrombie's title track to Timeless (ECM, 1975) but without the odd time signature, leading to a two-chord vamp driven by both Wittet and Froman that gives free rein to both guitarists.
Proof that there's life beyond the larger jazz meccasthat smaller music scenes can engender their own kind of creativitygeographic distance just might make The Double-Duo Sessions a one-shot deal. But it's great to see a group of players connected in a variety of ways come together for a date where friendship is the catalyst and spontaneity the charm.
Track Listing: Something Goes Wrong With The Silence; Unua; At Most, Spheric; Dua; Down Getup; Tria; BC-ing-ya (for Lorne Kelly); Kvara; JH al coda; Kvina; Eleventh Hourglass; Sesa; Sonata Form At All.
Personnel: Wayne Eagles: guitars; Ken Rossner: guitars; T. Bruce Wittet: drums; Ian Froman: drums.
Record Label: TetraArtist