Glen Hall is a Canadian saxophonist, whose previous release was Hallucination: Music and Words For William Burroughs.
I'm no fan of Burroughs' but Hall's collaboration there struck me as being the sort of almost-compilation one often finds on labels such as Sub Rosa. The numbers on that Leo disc varied from playful jazz to text with drone and echo; a dark ambient thing mixed with great improv tracks, some featuring Roswell Rudd.
On The Roswell Incident, "Tickled Pink" starts out with the funky line, tuba doing bottom with Liberty's guitar and Tarik's oud doing the plink thing. Threadgill's flute gives it a folkier sound than Yusuf Lateef would, partly because of the playing is more melodic and less "jazz" (read: heads and variations), but mostly because of the echo around it.
"Penny Arcade Peep Show" has a great slinky bass line with Rudd running some red-light moans, and the leader's clarinet making swinging comments on the action. The rhythm changes midway to an almost African pulse, slow yet wavy, with the vibes recalling kalimba. Another pulse change takes us to a more deliberately taunting bass riff which gives and then pulls back as the electric guitar does a rock-blue call and response with itself, 'til a locomotive rhythm takes it away, sadly for that it ended.
The Bowery isn't what it used to be, these days, with flophouses, shelters and lamp sores turning into luxury condos by the minute, but "The Bowery" continues the lowlife flow from the penny arcade. Rudd's hooking of the fingers with Hall's sax is deeply personal; I nearly feel as if I shouldn't be in on such a private communion.
"The Inscrutable Mr. Mee Too" is less inscrutable than it is a quiet, lovely ballad, where the vibraphone and trumpet-like playing at the top of the bass clarinet mingle delicately with the other instruments.
"Short" is different from the rest of the tracks; a clever head and the banjo doing a Djangoey guitar which changes the pace as introduction to their take on Carla Bley's "King Korn," which here becomes an Ornette Atlantic era post-post-bop tune, with vibes doing rhythmic punctuation and everyone taking solos.
Apart from the music, Morse's liner notes about the lack of necessity for liner notes are a waste and an insult; if you believe "What can words add?" don't do so for two pages. Print a poem, the artists' bios or discographies, artwork, or just leave it blank, rather than at the end of two pages, that to talk about the music would be "an insult to your dignity." Tell about the strikingly moving cover painting by Ivan Kuroyashev in 1926. I'd love to know more about his work.
Track Listing: 1. Mescal's Pastels; 2. Penny Arcade Peep Show; 3. The Bowery; 4. Rooster Steps; 5. The Inscrutable Mr. Mee Too; 6. Short; 7. Chico; 8. King Korn; 9. The Flow.
Personnel: Glen Hall, tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, bass flute, electronics; Allan Molnar, vibes; Michael Morse, bass; Barry Romberg, drums; Michael Occhipinti, guitar, banjo; Roswell Rudd, trombone.