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The axis on which this session rotates is the superb rhythm section of bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole. That said, Torque is likewise an intergenerational jazz jaunt that works exceptionally well due to several factors: the extreme level of comfort that flutist/saxophonist Sam Rivers has with this rhythm section; the fact that Rivers, at the age of 83, can still stylistically blow away just about anybody; and the chops and compositional skills of the driving force behind this datetrumpeter/flugelhornist Brian Groder.
A member of the '60s Jazz Composers Guild along with pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Archie Shepp, Rivers has credentials that match up with any seminal avant gardist. His '70s Studio RivBea SoHo performance space served as a wellspring of free jazz, and his playing across these tracks has lost none of that fire. Groder, who is a shining light in NYC's new jazz avant garde, leads the proceedings with an emphasis on his flugelhorn and intersperses ensemble playing with duets of various pairings on these fourteen compact pieces. A spiritual airiness makes these forms and rhythms, which are defined primarily in terms of line, stand out.
From the artistic packaging to tunes like "Diverging Orbits, which lifts off in controlled melodic flight before each player enters into his own trajectory, and "Fulcrum, where both hornmen independently rise up from a rhythmical pivot point, a loose zeitgeist prevails. "Behind the Shadows Parts 1 and 2 are diminutive flute/horn duets; Rivers leads the way on "Part 1 and Groder returns the favor on "Part 2. All four of these musicians are able to use the full range of their instruments to quell or exciteand whether it is a gorgeous duet, tight ensemble playing, or Rivers and Groder spitting fire, Torque twists and turns easily to move through its free and structured spaces.
Track Listing: Spellcast; Betwixt; Diverging Orbits; Behind the Shadows, Pt. 1; Behind the Shadows, Pt. 2; Iota; Cross-Eyed; Involution; Camouflage; Oculus; Jingo; Tragic Magic; Fulcrum; Water Prayer.
Personnel: Brian Groder: trumpet, flugelhorn; Sam Rivers: tenor sax, flute; Doug Mathews: bass; Anthony Cole: drums.