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Tom Christensen: Gualala

C. Michael Bailey By

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Two Tenors, Sopranos, and Clarinets.

This disc is almost entirely a modal improvisation. Each piece, saving one or two, is built on a single scale, propelled by a single bass figure. It reminds me of a highbrow John Lee Hooker. Boom, Boom, Boom Boom. Tom Christensen, the erstwhile leader of this merry band is a multi-reedist and brass player who uses this ensemble and opportunity to air out is considerable talent. He is joined by fellow Eastman collegue Charles Pillow, also a multi-reedist. Together with their rhythm section, they weave a sometime light-as-a-feather sometime brick-heavy web of music.

Completely entertaining, this is no Kind of Blue. I could not help thinking that the performers here were simply playing as if at a clinic, attempting to use the music as a vehicle for illustrating composing methods. That can't be all bad. After all, Bach''s Well Tempered Klavier was composed for the same reasons.

Track Listing: Gualala; The Cats of Ulthar; Cellular Coyotes; Thank You; Tangoed Web; Waiting is; New Pedal Tune; Bare Trees; Or Not. (Total Time: 65:34)

Personnel: Tom Christensen, tenor & soprano sax, oboe & English horn; Charles Pillow, tenor & sopranino sax, clarinet & bass clarinet, oboe; Satoshi Takeishi, percussion; Ben Allison, bass; Doug Weiss, bass.

Title: Gualala | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Naxos

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