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Borah Bergman/Oliver Lake: A New Organization

Robert Spencer By

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Borah Bergman plies his unique off-kilter lyricism here in the company of Oliver Lake, who shares his ability to deflect melodic progressions into unexpected areas. This particular duo combination can set off as many sparks as one might expect: many of the tracks contain a good deal of pedal-to-the-floor intensity, but there is more than just full-throttle pounding here.

However, especially toward the beginning of the disc, during the track entitled "I kiss your eyes," Lake seems to be prodding Bergman to go full throttle, but Bergman won't (at least at first) be prodded. After a few multiphonic cries that don't evoke a similar response Lake, on alto, seems to give up the effort, and settles into a gruff but restrained solo passage, broken only by a few squalling chromatic runs. Bergman prods him to a terrific pitch with only the sparsest chording, until, after nearly eight minutes of circling and prodding like a couple of wary prizefighters, Bergman kicks into high gear, and Lake is ready.

The second track, "A new organization," starts out, conversely, at high pitch, but Bergman drops back, at least at first, allowing Lake center stage for some grand, hard-won lyrical statements. Soon, however, Bergman turns up the volume, and we're off to the races again until halfway through the piece, when Bergman offers one of his crookedly melodic solos, with supporting cries, echoes, and long tones from Lake. But some of Bergman's most interesting playing comes at the beginning of the next two tracks, "I won't wash for three days" and "The blue tree." On the first of these Lake seems to have a bit of trouble finding an entrance. When Bergman switches to low, throaty chords, Lake finds his moment, and jumps into what becomes a mostly high-intensity piece characterized by some particularly acute choices from Lake. On "The blue tree" Lake is on soprano, but manages to coax as much grainy multiphonic crying out of the straight horn as he does from the alto. The last and lon! gest piece, "Forever fervent," is like the others in its movement from quiet, searchingly lyrical passages to patches of terrific power. Like most of the disc, the quiet passages show the considerable improvisational abilities of these two performers most immediately, but the loud ones do so no less clearly. A fine effort.

Track listing: I kiss your eyes/A new organization/I won't wash for three days/The blue tree/Forever fervent

Title: A New Organization | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Tzadik

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