Rich Halley 4: Eleven

Dan McClenaghan By

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Rich Halley 4: Eleven
Saxophonist Rich Halley exploded out of a five year recording hiatus in 2010 with Live at Penofin Jazz Festival, a growling, high energy, in-front-of-the-crowd mad man rant that featured trumpeter Bobby Bradford in the front line of a wild and often raucous chordless quartet. Five years off or not, there was a history there—a bunch of fiery quartet and trio sets on Louie Records. Coming off the break, Halley formed his own label, Pine Eagle Records. He has taken Bob Dylan's advice; he has not looked back.

Eleven is Halley's sixth recording with the Rich Halley 4, and the second in 2015, after the superb Creating Structures.

The consistency and volume of the saxophonist's output (who releases two CDs a year anymore?) seems to keep the juices flowing for Halley and his band mates. The Eleven if the disc's title refers to the number on compositions, loose structures that act as frameworks for some of the finest and free-est saxophone soloing this side of late period John Coltrane. Then there's Michael Vlatkovich, perhaps the only trombonist alive who can keep up with Halley's approach, not to mention bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Carson Halley, who tug the music into deep grooves and even periods of finger-snapping, danceable bop.

The set opens with the three part "Reification Suite," seventeen mmodern jazz minutes rolling out over over "Retroactive," a blustering thundercloud; "Radioactive," that sounds like impending doom, with the saxophonist tearing things up; and "Remnant," which is more reflective, a deep breath after the apocalypse, with a thoughtful tenor sax/trombone conversation.

There's nobody doing the Ornette Coleman-inspired chordless quartet quite like the Rich Halley 4. Their sound, for all its cyclonic saxophone wailing, its bombastic powerhouse trombone, always seems to maintain at an engaging element of structure bolstering a chest-thumping bravado. It's almost as if these guys take the stage saying: "Let's show these folks how it's done." And then they do it, on their terms.

Track Listing

Retroactive; Radioactive; Remnant; The Dugite Strikes; The Creep of Time; Glimpses Through the Fog; Adjusting the Throughput; Dead of Winter; Convolution; Slider; The Animas.


Rich Halley: tenor saxophone; Michael Vlatkovich: trombone; Clyde Reed: bass; Carson Halley: drums.

Album information

Title: Eleven | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Pine Eagle Records

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