Duo performance is one of the most revealing venues for a performer. While as exposed as if performing solo, the inclusion of another musician into the creative process forces accountability. Many great musicians have been stretched by the process to create some of their best performances, whether it is Duke and Jimmy Blanton or Hank Jones and Joe Lovano.
The drum/sax duo is one that can very easily lend itself to a dizzying flurry of squeaks and honks and it is nice to hear on Dreamstuff melodic ideas fleshed out with plenty of space lining the walls. Drummer Jeff "Siege Siegel has a definite reserve on the drums as well, setting up long drum fills on the snare only, dropping in the bass kick at the end of a phrase. Without bass, the performers utilizing the full range of their instruments is very important in creating drama; Siegel's careful implementation of flourish with a snare here, booming bass kicks over there and gap fills with ride cymbal and high hat surround saxophonist Jeff Marx' sax lines with a sense of orchestration. There is a consistency of improvisational material from song to song. Even the more exploratory tracks make use of a very singular style of free communication throughout. One benefit of dropping the bassist is in the added freedom of being able to fall into new and exciting improvisatory excursions; the only lacking aspect of Dreamstuff is a seeming reluctance for chance and exploration.
Eddie Prevost and Alan Wilkinson's So Are We, So Are We sets itself apart from the outset as markedly exploratory, opening with a pseudo melody motif toyed with by Wilkinson, Prevost letting loose a splurge of bass kicks that morphs for the next 17 or so minutes into strange and exciting places. "East, East, East London features Wilkinson exploring long-tone polytonality while Prevost uses the drums to create lush mantras of sound. As a founding member of AMM along with guitarist Keith Rowe and saxophonist Lou Gare, the London-based free-improv group holds weekly workshops led by Prevost that would be interesting to check out if one happened be in London on a Friday.
Drummer William Hooker and saxophonist Sabir Mateen are true experts of free improvisation. Hooker provides general support and yet still pushes the momentum of a song into new directions with jabs and splashes and rolls, a vivacious undercurrent as the snaking lines of Mateen balance that tightrope between melodic invention and timbre-oriented improvisation, brushing in broad strokes with squeaks and squeals that paint in the gaps between his jagged lines. "Hermitage opens with a pseudo AfroCaribbean beat and "One Just Man contains extended solo improvs with Mateen on clarinet. Only 250 copies of Dharma were pressed, so it may take a bit of vigilance to find, but it is definitely worth owning for fans of the loft-scene niche of free jazz.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Harps; Little Elliot Lloyd; Rag Tag; Kind of Like Talking; Tumble; Esposition; Bird's Sanctuary; Dreamstuff; Interiors; Blues for John Stubblefield.
Personnel: Jeff Marx: tenor saxophone; Jeff Siegel; drums.
so are we, so are we
Tracks: On Green Street; East, East, East London; Supa, Supa; For Marlene; So Are We, So Are We.
Personnel: Eddie Prevost: drums, Alan Wilkinson: alto and baritone saxophone.
Tracks: Multitudes; Acts of Worth; Hermitage; Speaking to You; One Just Man; No Ending; Multiple Effects.
Personnel: William Hooker: drums, Sabir Mateen: alto, tenor saxophones, flute, clarinet.