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Daniel Carter and Paul Flaherty are two of the most ruggedly individualistic players in the free jazz genre. They live modestly and they aren't very well known. It's almost as if they are most comfortable when the project is at its most obscure and A Flash In The Sky is just such a document. Limited to a run of 500 copies and issued in a semi-anonymous, tri-fold, silk-screened cardstock cover, this is a labor of love, not commerce and the music is as uncompromising as the packaging. Carter and Flaherty have met on record before and for this concert the duo was backed by drummer Randall Colbourne, Flaherty's long-standing collaborator. With a drummer, Flaherty throws sharp elbows and administers body blows but with Carter, the focus is on the two hornmen. Carter starts on trumpet alongside Flaherty's tenor, but soon the men make their way to their altos and the improvisations ebb and flow with the expected rising and falling action. The most enthralling moments come when Colbourne lays out, allowing the two veterans to be raw, authentic and harrowingly beautiful.
If it's true that all actors really want to be directors, then it's equally true that all free jazz musicians want to perform solo. It's not just a matter of practicality. Not having to split whatever meager payment a night's work might bring surely has its appeal, but what celebrates the free individual more than an ability to hold the stage by himself? On Urdla XXX multi-reedist Sabir Mateen takes the stage shaking a bell and chanting in a scat-style that clearly resembles his own saxophone playing. It's the most avant-garde three minutes on a CD that is otherwise a rather straightforward example of what one man and his horn(s) can do. Commencing on alto clarinet, Mateen is by turns aggressive and reflective. A brief poem promoting the idea that all sound is music separates the alto clarinet portion of the evening from the alto sax portion, where Mateen pays tribute to a pair of his heroes (Jimmy Lyons and Frank Wright). Along the way his music gets bluesier and more melodic, drawing you into its serenely intimate space. There are numerous examples of solo recitals available on CD, but few are as purely listenable as this one.
Tracks and Personnel
A Flash in the Sky
Tracks: Walking Upside-Down; Lost Cause Found
Personnel: Daniel Carter: trumpet, saxophones; Paul Flaherty: saxophones; Randall Colbourne: drums.
Tracks: The City of Lyon; Art Dance; Dakka Du Boo Yu!; Music is Sound and Sound is Music; Jimmy Lyons; Sekasso Blues; One for the Rev.Rev. Frank Wright; More than a Hammer and Nail; Blessing to You
Personnel: Sabir Mateen: alto clarinet, alto saxophone, small percussion, vocal.