This is music as a language of ongoing discussion in the best sense. Recorded at the Freedom of the City Festival in London just over a year ago, the single thirtyfive minute piece captured for posterity here starts out with Wilkinson and Prevost renewing their dialogue. In a dialect more heated than that found on their other effort ('So Are We, So Are We' on the same label), it's still founded on a deep understanding of musical democracy. Wilkinson gets more heated as the piece progresses, with Prevost's telepathic understanding of his lines taking the music in an incendiary direction, in a fashion that's an antithesis to the notion of soloist and accompaniment.
Their efforts provoke applause at around the nine-minute mark, and Williamson's entry on bass at that point has the effect of provoking reflection and a kind of mustering of the forces. Before the eleventh minute is out, however, the dialogue has become a trialogue and the fact that it has, is a measure of how sharply responsive these musicians can be. The dynamic shift that Prevost orchestrates with his switch from sticks to brushes seems at first like nothing other than a modest proposal. By the fourteenth minute the dynamic has shifted again, with Wilkinson as heated as he's ever been and Williamson seemingly stalking the margins of the music: an effect which before the fifteenth minute is out, seems rendered entirely irrelevant by him being placed front and centre for a brief solo.
By this time the music has taken on some life force of its own, fashioned by human creativity but with its existence owing something also to something intangible in the air. As such it would be churlish to critique Wilkinson's baritone sax playing for seeming to lack the incisiveness of his alto sax work. Suffice to say that he brings a certain generic quality to his work on it, until he turns the heat down and fashions his lines accordingly. By the time the piece hits the half hour mark, he's hitting the mark anyway in the of free bop settings. Prevost and Williamson coming on like a double rhythm section is the extent of the ground they're covering.
The importance of real time in the recording of this one is arguably secondary only to the creative depths of the musicians involved. As such the results are profound testimony to what might be called the primacy of the moment. The human depth of the music is accordingly fathomless.
Along Came Joe.
Alan Wilkinson: alto and baritone saxes; Joe Williamson: bass; Eddie Prevost: drums.
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