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Code Re(a)d documents the live, free improvised meeting of Israeli saxophonist Assif Tsahar with the massive rhythm section of double bass master Mark Dresser and powerful drummer Gerry Hemingway, recorded at Tshar's home base, the Levontin 7 club in Tel Aviv in May 2011. Dresser and Hemingway began to play together in the legendary Anthony Braxton Quartet (with pianist Marilyn Crispell), almost thirty years ago and continued to play together in various, respective solo projects, developing a unique, telepathic rapport. Tsahar has not met such a powerful rhythm section since his early collaborations with double bassist William Parker or his trio with double bassist Peter Kowald and Rashied Ali (Deals, Ideas & Ideals, Hopscotch, 2000).
On this live recording it is clear how deep, immediate and broad is the level of communication between Dresser and Hemingway, in a superb, nuanced and energetic performance. It is so gratifying on its own that it almost does not require any intervention of another musician that is not in their caliber, as the two demonstrate on "Deceptive Responses." But Tsahar is also a resourceful, determined musician who is not shy to alter Dresser and Hemingway's tight, muscular interplay into surprising realms, as on the patient, lyrical "Oblique Interpretations," "Expanded Metaphors" and "(A)pplied Syntax," where Hemingway and Dresser add delicate colors to Tshar's spare bass clarinet ruminations.
As the performance progresses it is clear that Hemingway is the one that calls the shots in this meeting. He dictates a muscular, massive pulse on "Resounding Reasoning" that only gets bigger and voluminous, forcing Dresser and Tsahar to follow him. After the short, gentle duet of him with Dresser on "Endangered Artifacts," Hemingway, together with Dresser charge Tsahar bass clarinet flights on "(A)pplied Syntax" with uncharacteristic urgency and focused power. And Hemingway again constantly pushes Tsahar and Dresser on the last, climatic "Divided Layers."
Code Re(a)d is a beautiful recording of a memorable performance. Poet Steve Dalachinsky added insightful, poetic observations about the experience of free improvisation, suggesting inspired titles for all the pieces.
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.