No doubt, saxophonist Blaise Siwula has blossomed into one of New York City’s most prominent modern jazz-based improvisers and free-jazz event organizers. However, the trio known as Badlands is a group effort featuring the equally noteworthy bassist Vattel Cherry and drummer Jeff Arnal, as this set was recorded live at the “Knitting Factory”.
From the onset of the fifteen minute opus “Freedom of Thought”, the band’s charter is quickly established as expressionistic imagery converges with multifarious elements and well-stated mini-themes. Siwula’s distinctive and often steely edged alto sax lines spearhead the rhythm sections’ sinewy developments and electrified currents. Here and throughout, Siwula’s enticing employment of richly thematic, vibrato-induced statements along with Cherry’s commanding presence and Arnal’s sweeping fills, and odd-metered beats provide the listener with a potpourri of harmonious interludes and raw, yet powerful improv. Siwula produces rhythmically inclined soulfulness and probing sentiments on his solo alto sax performance titled, “Vibes”, while the band soars into the stratosphere during “Freedom In The Wind”. However, “Freedom Of Horizon” is reminiscent of the fabled British free-jazz movement as the trio blends conversational type dialogue with briefly stated, clipped lines yet eventually pick up steam as all hell breaks loose. Recommended!