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For those who closely follow the global jazz-improv scene, these artists' varied resumes point towards the latest and greatest of modern jazz's vast parameters and possibilities. Recorded live at New York City's late, great Knitting Factory in 2001, the quartet indulges in some truly exciting interplay, tinged with bizarre attributes and moments of energized sonic mayhem.
The electro-acoustic vibe features ominously crafted improvisation, spiced-up by Hans Tammen's "endangered guitar manipulations and bassist Chris Dahlgren's electronics-based treatments. At times, Tammen sounds as though he's spewing forth shards of metal from his guitar as the quartet's improvisational factor yields unpredictable and altogether, otherworldly results. On the piece "Many Have Passed Rigorous Courses, Alfred 23 Hearth's tumultuous tenor sax lines conveys notions of angst and retribution atop drummer Jay Rosen's popping and thrusting asymmetrical pulses.
Tammen's cleverly enacted volume control techniques and reverse chord progressions emit a liquefying effect as motifs emerge then vanish into vapor space. And during several movements, the band engages crash and burn dialoguesoccasionally counterbalanced by quiet, minimalism. However, they alter the tide on "A Long Trip By Water, where Harth's howling tenor choruses ride atop a solid funk groove that segues into an interstellar romp, due to Tammen's free-jazz/space rock type voicings.
Ultimately, it's a strangely entertaining and somewhat inspiring jaunt that beckons a myriad of existential frameworks. They break the rules with hell-raising intentions; a proposition that could parallel Monk's composition "Ugly, Beauty in name only, that is.
Track Listing: Setting Out With Aggressive Intent; Taken at a Leisurely Pace; Many Have Passed Rigorous Courses; A Considerable Amount of Time and Distance; Retained Notions of Speed and Purpose; A Brief Pleasure Trip; From One Place to Another; A Long Trip by Water; A Place That Has Emotional Significance; Returning to the Place Where It Began.
Personnel: Hans Tammen: endangered guitar; Alfred 23 Harth: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Chris Dahlgren: bass, electronics; Jay Rosen: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.