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One of the more striking aspects of the playing on The Stone, Issue One, especially the interplay between altoist John Zorn and trumpeter Dave Douglas, is the sense of immediacy and transparency about the music. It's as if you have a clear window into the improvisatory act, witnessing pure, unpremeditated creation as it happens for the very first time.
Recorded at the nascent Alphabet City club known as The Stone, this disc is essentially an untitled suite of alternately serene, grooving and anguished music, with Zorn and Douglas joined by Mike Patton (voice), Rob Burger (organ, electric piano), Bill Laswell (bass) and Ben Perowsky (percussion). The Stone was voted one of AAJ:New York's Best Venues for 2005, and with this special release to benefit the club, it's easy to see why.
The "Introduction creates a tranquil ambience filled with shimmering organ chords and gentle electric piano tones. But that serenity is soon shattered by "Interlude 1 and a rising, anxious howl that opens up the tormented world of Patton's visceral and spastic extreme vocals. (Picture the cartoon character the Tazmanian Devil in violent death throes and you're about halfway there.)
By "Part One, the third track, the full ensemble finally joins together. Laswell's bass, Perowsky's drums and Burger's organ create a spacey groove above which Zorn's alto and Douglas' trumpet dance in intervals that sound plucked from the Middle East or perhaps North Africa. Some extreme sax technique leads to another brief "Interlude where it's often difficult to tell sax from trumpet from voice.
"Part Two provides another loose framework for the horn players to explore extended, thoughtful and impassioned solos. The climax of the suite comes at the end of this section, with both horns building in an emotional crescendo. And while the remainder of the piece may be denouement, it's still beautiful, especially Douglas' low, muted trumpet phrases throughout the pensive "Postlude.
Track Listing: Introduction; Interlude 1; Part One; Interlude 2; Part Two; Interlude 3; Postlude; Coda.
Personnel: John Zorn: alto saxophone; Dave Douglas: trumpet; Mike Patton: voice; Rob Burger: organ, electric piano; Bill Laswell: bass; Ben Perowsky: drums.