WA: Cross The Center (2012)
"Funfun" opens the CD with the requisite amount of sound, skronk, and bluster. The result is somewhere between Hound Dog Taylor there's some sweetly quivery slide guitar going onand that scorched-earth variety of plugged-in free jazz pioneered by drummer Tony Williams' Lifetime, and later by John Abercrombie on the first Gateway album (ECM, 1975). WA's take on Eden Ahbez's classic, "Nature Boy," is an entirely different matter; this is a beautiful version of the tune. Henneman positively revels in the melody, as the drums and plugged-in percussion rattle and tangle in the background. Stout's accompaniment here is quite delicate, while still being stylistically spot-on.
"Liuzza's" continues along similar lines. Keplinger rolls out an undeniably swinging polyrhythmic backdrop as the guitars and electronics chatter and squeal in the foreground. The lyrical flow of "Adagio and Babel" is undercut by Lane's buzzing, droning electronicsis he bowing the bicycle here?which subside and ultimately join Henneman in 6-string/32-spoke nirvana. The overall effect is eerie and atmospheric, though the piece fades just as it's entering more turbulent air. "Carcassi" is even sparer. Here, Henneman's bold soloing owes a bit to some of guitarist Terje Rypdal's early ECM recordings, such as What Comes After (1974). The brief, furious coda that ends the piece is nothing short of tantalizing.
As with much improvised music, the success of Cross The Center lies mostly in the highly developed sensitivity and listening ability of its participants, which WA has in spades. Lots of chops on display here as well, though never gratuitously. This is an engrossing CD, beautifully paced, with a variety of textures that meld to into a veritable forest of sonic micro-environments.
Track Listing: Funfun; Nature Boy; Liuzza’s; Adagio and Babel; Carcassi.
Personnel: Gregg Keplinger: drums; Simon Henneman: guitar; C.J. Stout: guitar; Sean Lane: bicycle and electronics.
Record Label: Tables & Chairs