Let's misquote a Rolling Stones' lyric here, with the music of Paul Flaherty
always get what you want," and maybe to a greater extent, "you get what you need." For more decades than he might want to count, the saxophonist has been making his self-described 'hated music.' We're talking hate as in a bugaboo, a bogey, or a thorn in one's flesh. Because his music is free. Free like a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting or a Warner Brothers Wile E. Coyote vs. Road Runner cartoon.
The path Flaherty chose, like that of Jack Wright
, John Dikeman
, and Charles Gayle
, is a desolate one. Blowing unadulterated sounds as he does was punk rock two decades before punk rock. You won't hear it on a jukebox, nor a jazz radio station. But hearing Flaherty in person live is an experience, a happening. This live recording from 2019 is just such beautiful hate. Flaherty is reunited with his long time sideman, drummer Randall Colbourne. Together they have released a few dozen discs. The quartet heard here also includes guitarist Mike Roberson and trumpeter James Chumley Hunt.
The four tracks and 61-minutes of music touch on multiple structures and methodologies, none preplanned or notated. The music can spiral and levitate as light as cloud or alight as in a wildfire. Flaherty comes from the Albert Ayler
tradition with a spiritual approach to free blowing. This is evident throughout, especially on "Dark Leaves Linger" where his saxophone speaks with a bluesy growl against Hunt's conch shell, then Roberson's bouncing guitar lines. The quartet acts as a cooperative, exchanging ideas and strategizing together. Freed of structured sound, the resourceful listener can summon fragments of Albert and Donald Ayler
, Ornette Coleman
and Don Cherry
, plus Bern Nix
Solo or in duo with a drummer (Colbourne or Chris Corsano
), Flaherty is often obliged to perform fiery musical feats. Here he acts as an unselfish leader. "Brazen Eyes" opens more like a classical chamber piece than outward avant sound. As the music progresses, Colbourne's drumming, freed of time à la Sunny Murray
, opens into a deferential brain storm. Each instrument is heard equally up front, and maybe it's just imagination, but are the classic "You Don't Know What Love Is" and fragments of Miles Davis
' Sketches Of Spain
(Columbia, 1960) quoted here? Maybe, by trying to listening sometimes, you get what you need.
Crude Gray Sky; Dark Leaves Linger; Brazen Eyes; An Old Man Gone.