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Thomas Borgmann/Wilbur Morris/Reggie Nicholson: BMN...You See What We

Derek Taylor By

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The passing of Denis Charles left many rifts on the landscape of creative improvised music one of which was the necessary demise of the trio he shared with Borgmann and Morris. Recouping the loss as best a possible the two surviving musicians enlisted the aid of Reggie Nicholson and embarked on an exhaustive but edifying 8000 mile tour of Europe and the States. This session taped, in the acoustically inviting Spirit Room (which at the time of this writing is the birth place of over 100 recorded documents of improvised jazz) transpired at the end of the tour with all the sights, sounds and experiences of the pilgrimage still crisp in the musicians’ minds.

The hushed quiet of mallets, vibrating strings and wispy tenor beckons the listener into a poignant collage of eulogistic sounds on “Goodbye Mr. Charles.” Borgmann’s initial tone is imbued with a melancholic sadness that is both dark and luminous and Morris’ demulcent plucking echoes similar sentiments. Denis Charles is indeed missed, but Nicholson’s percussive contributions, while demonstrating shades of the departed drummer, are wholly his own. His lengthy solo which comprises the center of the piece is bursting with the beauty of an advanced percussive imagination. Borgmann’s eventual return gradually increases in tempo, his horn sketching unctuous streams atop Morris’ earthen rhythmic pulse. Though nearly a half hour in girth the piece melts away with astonishing rapidity.

Spacious vistas of the American West are evoked on “Fathers and Sons” a tone poem built initially around a Native American drum pattern and chant. Morris’ muffled words and Borgmann’s suspirating saxophone exchange euphonious messages before the piece unfolds into more heated blowing. Soon after the increase in pace Borgmann accomplishes several switches to soprano and back to tenor without missing a beat. “Forecasts” is the shortest of the four of tunes as well as the most conventional in structure. Borgmann, again on tenor, blows blustery lines against a roiling rhythm of Morris’ adroit strums and Nicholson’s crashing cymbals. An unexpected quietude seizes the tune’s last several minutes with the trio wrapped in a reverie of rumination. The somber mood carries over into “Everything Falls Into Place” through Morris’ lengthy pizzicato solo that opens the piece. Borgmann’s tenor and a cadence of cymbals announce more turbulent directions before an eventual close The title of this final piece is in reality indicative of the entire disc. Quite simply this is music of both purity and grace. The end result of three souls who share in a deep loss, but also in an inspiring rejuvenation through the catharsis of music. The old trio may be a remnant of the past, but this new triumverate has a very promising future.

Track Listing: Goodbye Mr. Charles, Mothers & Fathers, Forecasts, Everything Falls Into Place.

Recorded at The Spirit Room, Rossie, New York, October 12, 1998.

Available through Cadence/NorthCountry Distributors (

Personnel: Thomas Borgmann- soprano, sopranino & tenor saxophones, Wilbur Morris- double bass, voice, Reggie Nicholson- drums.

Title: BMN...You See What We | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: CIMP Records


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