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Ben Perowsky’s first recording as leader doesn’t present a standard piano/bass/drums trio but offers in its stead drums (Perowsky), bass (Colley) and saxophone/clarinet (Speed). I presume that Perowsky was seeking the greatest possible freedom of expression within a small–group format; I would presume further that he came close to achieving that ambition. If Perowsky got what he wanted, what has he given the listener? To oversimplify the case, an often pleasant but substantially unexciting session by three well–schooled musicians who probably sound great in a nightclub but are less convincing when one has an opportunity to listen more than once. The problem with bass/drums/horn is that unless the players are superb and the music memorable, there aren’t a whole lot of places to hide. Everything is on the table, so to speak, and in this case the nourishment is at best sporadic. By the time the trio reached track 7, Olivier Messaien’s “Danse de la Fureur pour les Sept Trompettes,” I longed for even “une trompette” to add some spice to the menu. Instead, Speed’s clarinet was thrown into the breach (as it was on Perowsky’s “Electric Sheep”). Perowsky also wrote “El Destructo” and “Janitor” while everyone collaborated on “Pixy99.” There are a couple of well–known tunes, Ellington’s “Sentimental Mood” and Charlie Parker’s “Segment,” and the group closes the session with Pink Floyd’s “Money” (another improbable dream for most Jazz musicians). The last minute and a half of the disc, by the way, consists of various audience noises apparently taped after the set. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Speaking of audiences, five of the tunes were recorded live, “El Destructo,” “Danse de la Fureur” and “Money” in a studio (unless the audience in those cases was mute). Speed, who has to carry much of the solo burden, is a competent but less than remarkable New Wave saxophonist who’s at his best on “El Destructo” and “Sentimental Mood,” at his worst on “Money.” Colley keeps flawless time, Perowsky often works wonders with the drum kit, but the session as a whole never rises beyond respectable.
Track listing: El Destructo; Segment; Electric Sheep; Pixy99; Janitor; In a Sentimental Mood; Danse de la Fureur pour les Sept Trompettes; Money (63:14).
Ben Perowsky, drums; Scott Colley, bass; Chris Speed, saxophone, clarinet.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.