Imagine three scholars sitting under dim lights at a coffeehouse discussing world politics or social disorder? Dynamics of the Impromptu may imply such a scenario as three of the founding fathers of the British Free-Jazz movement coalesced at London’s “Little Theater Club” in 1973 and 1974. Dynamics of the Impromptu represents previously unreleased material which signifies a flourishing and historical time for this endearing and important era of free-improvised jazz.
Bailey, Stevens and Watts perform 6 improvised pieces titled “Impromptu Dynamics 1-6”. Impromptu is an elegant word indicating spontaneity or in musical jargon “improvised”. Here, the three masters immerse themselves in articulate dialogue through unconventional musical invention. Watts’ spurious and at times briefly stated activities on soprano sax intersect Bailey’s uncanny, totally unique chord structures, harmonics and ingenious thematic approach. The late John Stevens, well known for his cutting edge Spontaneous Music Ensemble is a true clinician here and proves beyond a doubt that he was one of the early innovators or stylists within the British Free movement. Stevens, subtle and intricate patterns keep pace through suggestion or rhythmic intimation, which contrasts textbook style meter and tempo.
These pieces run the gamut from whispery low key musings through enraging or boisterous call and response. The moods constantly shift and evolve as Watts, Bailey and Stevens purvey musical structures that defy logic. Emotions flare up as in “Impromptu Dynamics #6”. Arguments or debates are imminent. The sensibilities of unity and collaboration resurface as the music seems to transcend conventional ideology or acceptable agendas.
Dynamics of the Impromptu provides a glistening snapshot of a thriving British music scene, which had initiated a campaign of renaissance spirit and anarchistic behavior enacted through music. *** ½
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.