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Carter Swell Ughi: Concrete Science

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Concrete Science is not a stiff, cerebral test of complex music. It is the natural unfettered dialogue between three masterful improvisers: saxophonist Daniel Carter, trombonist Steve Swell, and drummer Federico Ughi. Though cerebral in that concentration is necessary to improvise at the lofty levels captured here, the music never sounds forced or wonky.

The brisk seventeen-minute workout "Now and Ever Resistance" is a high-intensity, up-tempo piece with swirling horns that Ughi punctuates with stabbing cymbals and rolling drums. As on the rest of the CD, no one overpowers the proceedings and the players comment as they please. The crisp recording, with the horns panned in the mix, allows the listener to readily identify what each musician plays—helpful given the extended techniques and rapidity of notes. "Soul's Underwood Tunnels" explores more spacious and introspective terrains, with quieter dynamics provided by Carter's flute and Swell's mute. The movement is sparse, though the two horns match wits with unison stops and starts, effectively injecting space and illuminating the players' synchronicity.

Blasting density resumes on "Middleclass Madness," though the piece devolves into hushed tones, with Ughi laying out for a stretch. When he returns, the piece builds a startling crescendo to a bombastic conclusion. "Our Own Fingerprints" and "Concrete Science" test opposite ends of the spectrum: the former features a fleet Swell run with drum accompaniment and a blistering Carter clarinet; the latter closes the recording somberly with atmospheric textures and some warm, sustained unison tones.

With the uncommon sax/bone/drums lineup, the results are solid and disciplined, perhaps Concrete Science after all.

Track Listing: 1. Now And Ever Resistance (17:09) 2. Soul's Underwood Tunnels (12:34) 3. Middleclass Madness (18:08) 4. Our Own Fingerprints (7:18) 5. Concrete Science (6:24)

Personnel: Daniel Carter: Alto and Tenor Sax, Flute and Clarinet; Steve Swell: Trombone; Federico Ughi: Drums

Title: Concrete Science | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: 577 Records


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