Has it really been away? The New Thing, that is. There are quite a few practitioners of the now almost forty-year-old New Thing who have by now illustrious careers behind them: Mr. Braxton, Mr. McPhee, Mr. Parker, and many many more. But those men - and many others - have moved far beyond where they were in the Sixties, and so maybe it's a different facet of the New Thing that's returning. The cover of this disc, after all, pictures a baby sitting among some of the great albums of the early days of the New Thing: works by Paul Bley, Frank Lowe, Keshavan Maslak, Sam Rivers, and others. And there is something of a Sixties freak-out atmosphere to some of this, especially at high-energy points of "Somehow, anyhow" and elsewhere.
But in fact, pianist Dan Warburton and co. show that they very well know that the New Thing has been going on since the albums on the cover were recorded. Alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet, in particular, plays atmospheric saxophone with some debt to the devices developed by Evan Parker and others in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties. This is dramatic music, with all four of the players highly and quickly reactive. Tempos shift, one player speaks, and the others are right there to comment. It ranges from the barely audible (as on the long beginning of "Hic et nunc, in limine") to the furious, and has as much depth of emotion as it does of dynamic.
So wherever the New Thing has been or not been, it's in fine form here. The final track, "Truth and Reconciliation (to Archie Shepp)," even sets up something of a steady rhythm, over which Guionnet pops pads and plays percussively along with Warburton. The gradual building here is a dramatic indication of the imagination, energy, and flair of this fine quartet.
Dan Warburton, p, vln; François Fuchs, b; Jean-Luc Gionnet, as; Edward Perraud, perc.
Track listing: Somehow, anyhow / Hic et nunc, in limine / Y2K / Truth and Reconciliation (to Archie Shepp).