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The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible

John Sharpe By

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Anything Is Possible constitutes the second release from a quintet first convened by San Francisco-based reedman Larry Ochs for his 2013 residency at The Stone in New York. Following that successful summit, and perhaps not unrelated, the pairing of trumpeter Nate Wooley and bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, players as at home in extemporized form as in adventurous timbral innovation, has also featured on saxophonist Dave Rempis' From Wolves To Whales (Aerophonic, 2014), and on On Parade In Parede (Clean Feed, 2017) by the Canada Day Quartet of the drummer on this date, Harris Eisenstadt. Accomplished bassist Ken Filiano completes the Five and sets up the inventive two bass undercurrent to this studio session.

A forceful presence who emerged from the celebrated Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ochs is becoming an ever more significant figure on the creative music scene, as borne out by a string of consummate albums, of which his work here and on A Jones In Time Saves Nine (NoBusiness, 2019), are just some examples. Ochs has assembled a starry crew whose abilities match his own. They use their considerable abilities to generate exciting and unexpected outcomes on three lengthy pieces authored by the leader and on two shorter collective improvs.

Ochs' charts allow ample freedom for expression while at the same time ensuring empathetic support. He marshals the participants into fast changing combinations of instruments and textures, especially on the first two tracks, which engenders a structured feel, though without fixed time or harmony. The most sustained passage of bustling interplay comes on "With Liberties and Latitude for All," which then likewise breaks down into a series of quicksilver solos and duos, before Ochs reassembles these constituent parts into movement which begets the only unison line on the disc, a boppish coming together of muscular tenor saxophone and gusty trumpet.

But so strong is the group ethos that if anything the co-operative cuts seem even more controlled than the compositions. "And the Door Blows Open (for Cecil Taylor)" is a masterpiece of concision, unhurried and magisterial, starting with Ochs alone, before Wooley briefly echoes his tenor phrase. The trumpeter continues with just Filiano's bowed bass for company, before a switch to Ochs' muttering plosives, Niggenkemper's wiry plucking and Eisenstadt's pulsing drums. All change again as a solo trumpet fanfare becomes intertwined with tenor to close. It would be hard to write something more effective. "A Fictive Form of Closure" presents a similarly expert demonstration of on-the-fly organization to end out the album.

The Fictive Five lives up to its name, fashioning astonishing narratives from its communal imagination, and showing that with a roster this talented, indeed anything is possible.

Track Listing: Immediate Human Response (for Spike Lee); The Others Dream; And the Door Blows Open (for Cecil Taylor); With Liberties and Latitude for All (for Warren Sonbert); A Fictive Form of Closure.

Personnel: Larry Ochs: tenor and sopranino saxophones; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Ken Filiano: bass and effects; Pascal Niggenkemper: bass and effects; Harris Eisenstadt: drums.

Title: Anything Is Possible | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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