Pianist Glenn Horiuchi's quartet eagerly dwells in the nooks and crannies of impromptu free jazz. On his new recording Fair Play (recorded in 1994), punchy piano clusters lead without warning to quotations of showtunes or circus melodies, only to melt back into the seething abyss of free improvisation. Tuba player William Roper adds a cheeky ironic sense of humor to the mix, while percussionist Jeanette Wrate constantly peppers it with brilliant colors found outside the traditional drum set. Saxophonist Francis Wong seems more content to explore the dimensions of lyrical melodicism, though he too breaks out into the open at times.
All four players make liberal use of vocal snippets ranging from existential questions like "Why do the angels cry?" to facts-of-life reflections on working with the San Diego Water Utilities Department: "Ten feet under the ground, just me and my drill! So cool, so peaceful!" As you might imagine, it's an odd mixture: at times bordering on random. But even in its heaviest moments of free interplay, Horiuchi's unit never loses its sense of humor.
Track Listing: Fair Play; Angel Tears; Wet Tap; Manzanar Voices - Part II.
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.