In Art Taylor's seminal book of interviews, Notes and Tones
(Da Capo, 1977/1993), the drummer asks Dexter Gordon what he thinks of free jazz. Gordon's answer is, naturally, ironic and non-committal, but he closes with "although the way you play it [Arthur] is very good. Art Taylor did, after all, have a brief career as a free jazz drummer in Paris during the early '70s, working regularly with Frank Wright as well as sitting in on the odd avant-garde sides by Dizzy Reece and Hal Singer, respectively.
Other architects of the bebop percussion style were similarly finding ways to expand their approach to time, like Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes. Walter Perkins (1932-2004) was one of the latest converts to open music, applying his light, open swing and tides of press rolls to playing and recording with Peter Brötzmann, William Parker and, as his final session, Newk-inspired tenor man Bob Feldman.
Bob Feldman, a playwright, actor, and reedman who has worked with Sam Shepard and Richard Maxwell, in addition to groups as diverse as those of Mingus and Sopwith Camel, assembled the rhythm section of Perkins and bassist Ken Filiano for Triplicity, his second recording as a leader. The inside-outside approach that Feldman's music takes is a perfect setting for Perkins, his traditionally-rooted approach to free playing meshing better with the loose, gritty and often wry swing of Feldman's style than the caterwauling improvisations of Brötzmann. Rather than the complex polyrhythmic webs woven by Taylor, Haynes, and Philly Joe, Perkins capitalizes on a style that is imbued with that Chicago sense of spaciousness and tasteperfectly placed occasional cymbal taps slowly increasing in repetition, as mass is built through the bass, not unlike the team of Philip Wilson and Malachi Favors in the AACM (see "Wind Chill ).
Repetition is key here as Perkins creates a quietly unrelenting mass of brush-and-snare work around Feldman's bamboo flute on "Skipit/Ripit, an almost demonically obsessive attack that overwhelms the flute and bass interplay. Filiano's excellence as a bassist of varied trades makes him a perfect choice for Triplicity as well, his tone and drive putting him in a class with many a post-bop anchor while still containing a strong affinity for sliding into piercing arco squall and percussive chattering at a moment's notice.
Triplicity is a solid recording of perfectly egalitarian reed-bass-drums trio improvisation, the kind of music that affirms ESP's use of the "Y symbol on the jacket of Spiritual Unity to denote the Ayler Trio's value. Bob Feldman is a tenor player whose bawdy classicism belies what the neo-cons could never quite grasp, but it is the malleability of Filiano and Perkins that make this record what it isa perfectly fitting dedication on all fronts.