The international collaborative trio of American trombonist Ray Anderson, Dutch drummer Han Bennink and Irish guitarist Christy Doran recorded two adventurous albums for hatART in the mid-1990s; Azurety was released in 1994 and Cheer Up arrived the following year. ABD collects the strongest tracks from these two sessions onto one disc, providing a valuable opportunity to re-examine the creative spontaneity these three artists share.
Though the compilation's ten selections are wildly eclecticone of Doran's progressive numbers sits precariously alongside a nostalgic Duke Ellington cover while the remaining pieces are evenly split between Anderson's writing and free improvisationits diversity offers a glimpse into the working methods of one of the '90s most intriguingly unusual cooperatives. The tunes are carefully sequenced to provide a dramatic yet cohesive arc through the trio's many stylistic detours, ranging from luminous balladry to scorching expressionism.
Although capable of bouts of unruly interplay, Anderson and Bennink's whimsical sensibility often tempers their more outlandish escapades; Anderson's gutbucket slurs, smears and whinnies on "Heights" complement Bennink's ramshackle salvos with mercurial wit. In contrast to Anderson and Bennink's deep backgrounds in traditional jazz, Doran's quicksilver fretwork and distorted tone is more stylistically indebted to heavy metal and jazz-rock fusion, but his dynamic range stretches well beyond the limitations of those genres. Demonstrating remarkable versatility, his silky volume pedal swells on "Azurety" are as serene as the blistering scalar runs he unleashes on "B & D" are unhinged.
With heart on sleeve, Anderson's poignantly titled blues "My Children Are the Reason Why I Need to Own My Publishing" expresses it's title perfectly, as the author's lyrical horn work crests above Doran's atmospheric shadings and Bennink's tastefully restrained percussive patter. Conversely, at their most spirited, as on the epic "Tabasco Cart," the trio's riotous three-way discourse ascends to rapturous heights, their high-octane bluster reinforced by a congenial rapport. Whether hamming up obvious clichés with witty disregard on the off-kilter "March of the Hipsters" or mining the euphonious harmonic potential of "Hence The Reason," Anderson, Bennink and Doran make a most impressive line-upeasily one of the previous decade's most fascinating collectives.
Azurety; B & D; March of the Hipsters; Heights; Just Squeeze Me; A B D; My Children Are The Reason Why I Need To Own My Publishing; Tabasco Cart; Buckethead; Hence The Reason.
Ray Anderson: trombone, tuba; Han Bennink: drums; Christy Doran: guitars, delay devices.