The cover of the 1994 archival recording Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results)
by the DUX Orchestra presents an intriguing line up which combines American free jazzers with Swedish baritone saxophonist Mats Gustafsson
. Even within the New York City contingent there is diversity, as veteran stickman Walter Perkins
(who played with Sonny Rollins
, Roland Kirk
and Charles Mingus
among many others) rubs shoulders with young drummer Susie Ibarra
(in her pre-David S. Ware
days), stalwart reedmen Dave Sewelson
and Will Connell
Jr, and bassist Dave Hofstra
, the last four all members of bassist William Parker
's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra at the time.
Then there is the little-known guitarist jc morrison (who styles himself all lower case). And it's actually morrison who is key to this session, as a visit to his website
divulges. At the time, DUX was an informal grouping around the guitarist, Sewelson, Perkins and Parker, which could expand to include others, as it did to meet morrison's orchestral ambitions on this occasion. Although only seven strong, the outfit offers a full, if bottom heavy, palette and takes a widescreen approach to marshalling the resources on hand, courtesy of loose arrangements by morrison and Sewelson.
"Duck Walks Dog" which makes up the first side of this limited edition LP (also available as a digital download), opens with the tandem drum tattoo of Ibarra and Perkins, who prove adept at maintaining a transparency which allows everyone to be heard and doesn't overwhelm. Then it is straight into one of the signature sounds of this disc, a spiraling polyphony which culminates in a simple head laid out in rangy unison. Thereafter the cut alternates between soloists supported by the twin drum axis and unruly collectives from which a further solo feature emerges.
Each of the horns stays faithful to the spiraling impetus of the chart, Sewelson's baritone sax yelping and throaty, Connell's alto squalling and nervily dipping into a gruff lower register, Gustafsson electrifying with a mix of split tones and coruscating cries while, on electric bass, Hofstra scrabbles but resists the temptation to join when Perkins sets up a steady boogaloo. The piece continues on the B side, under the title "Mixed Results Part I" with morrison chiming spicily as the drums roil, before further collective improvisation and a final recapitulation.
"Mixed Results Part II," which is a separate tune entirely, similarly starts with the drums before another swirling ensemble, out of which Sewelson surfaces to outline another uncomplicated theme, picked up by the rest of the band. Gustafsson explodes once more, with morrison's slashing guitar in close pursuit. Then, as he winds down, comes the sound of what morrison's website reveals to be an angry neighbor hammering on the door of the Chelsea loft, and proceedings halt abruptly. This would have been a great band to hear live, but perhaps not if you lived next door...
Duck Walks Dog; Mixed Results Part I; Mixed Results Part II.