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Kodian Trio: II

Kevin Press By

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Europe's free jazz scene continues to race forward, to the delight of its small but ardent fan base. The self-described "improvising power unit" Kodian Trio is doing its part to keep things hopping.

Featuring Dirk Serries on electric guitar, Andrew Lisle on drums and Colin Webster on alto saxophone, the three-piece recorded its second album at the Sunny Side Inc. studio in Brussels, Belgium. It's a trip.

For the uninitiated, Webster and Lisle are both active improv players that have been steadily growing their respective audiences with each project. Serries' background is a bit more varied. The guitarist had his start in industrial and ambient music before turning to improvisational jazz. He recorded under the name Vidna Obmana between 1984 and 2007.

What will strike you first on this six-track effort is the extraordinary mix of Webster's saxophone and Serries' guitar. Despite the fact that Webster used just one instrument and Serries just one pedal effect, both are way out there. This could come across as a contest for attention. On the contrary, Serries' jagged-edge playing underscores Webster's delivery beautifully. Imagine a modern dance piece performed on the edge of a cliff.

That intricacy extends to Lisle's drum kit. Despite the lack of elbow room, his playing provides an entirely separate focal point. You will find yourself distracted by his bandmates repeatedly. But he will pull you right back. Lisle adds a dimension to the album that may be understated at times, but packs a wallop where it's needed most.

Kodian Trio have only been together since 2015. London's Café Oto served as a fitting birthplace. Perhaps the album's final track—in which Webster (a self-confessed metal head) blows kisses of various size and shape through his saxophone—is a kind of love letter to what The Guardian called "Britain's coolest venue."

Indeed, there is a playfulness inherent in the work that sets the Kodians apart from free jazz groups intent on testing their listeners. This light-heartedness is at least partly due to how often the trio plays together. (They seem to thrive on back-to-back performances.) All three give Sunny Side high marks, and describe the session as smooth and problem-free.

Track Listing: A1; A2; A3; B1; B2; B3.

Personnel: Dirk Serries: electric guitar; Andrew Lisle: drums; Colin Webster: alto saxophone.

Title: II | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Trost Records

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