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And the world continues to expand. The American (pronounced “Merican”) centered view of jazz continues to be annulled by European, Japanese and world artists. This offering by New Zealand musicians Jeff Henderson and Tom Callwood along with British drummer Mark Sanders is a first-rate piece of free jazz improvisation.
Knowing nothing about the New Zealand creative scene, or these two players, leaves an empty canvass for this trio to fill. This disc was recorded in London July 2001. Drummer Mark Sanders a veteran of the London improvising scene with the likes of Evan Parker, Jah Wobble, Elton Dean, Paul Dunhill, and Steve Beresford, fits nicely with these visitors.
It would be superficial to compare or tag saxophonist Jeff Henderson as the Evan Parker or Mats Gustafsson of New Zealand. But on the other hand, he has definitely absorbed the vernacular of the modern horn. Henderson has a full command of tone, flutter, squawk, and breath, stuff that makes the exploration of possibilities of his instrument worth turning out for gigs these days.
The overriding concept of this recording is the group dynamism and the trio’s ability to maintain their working coherence throughout. Their integration holds from the minimal free opener “The Reason” through the incendiary centerpiece “The Cause.” Sanders maintain a constant swing based in humor, not at all unlike Han Bennink. He plays around the beat or accents from an odd cymbal or sound. Sanders can also ramp up the energy, but does so only to respond to his partners. Bassist Tom Callwood both keeps time and speaks his mind. Alternating from plucking to a highly verbal bowing input.
The surprise factor of discovering these two new artists gives way to a wholly stimulating listening experience. By the last track, the title piece their language has been absorbed by the listener and the repeat button is the next move.
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.