Kaivalya Volume 1 / Live at the 'Bottle' Fest

Francis Lo Kee By

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John Coltrane and Elvin Jones are probably the unknowing progenitors of these two CDs (and many more like them). At a certain point in performances of the Coltrane quartet, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison dropped out—avoiding superfluousness—because Trane and Elvin had so much to say. A few years later Coltrane recorded the pivotal sax/drum duo Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1967) with drummer Rashied Ali, and following that recording, the percussion/sax duo has become an almost standard instrumental combination.

In fact, both of these CDs start with intense sax/drum duets (Peter Brötzmann on alto, with a sound so thick it almost sounds like it was a tenor), as if they were consciously channeling those versions of "Impressions or "Leo. Marc Edwards is known as a free drummer who's worked with Cecil Taylor, but Nasheet Waits is known more for his gigs with Andrew Hill, Jason Moran and Antonio Hart, so it's interesting to hear this drummer play in this freer context (with one of the icons of European free improvisation, no less).

Paul Flaherty/Marc Edwards
Kaivalya Volume 1
Cadence Jazz

On Kaivalya Volume 1 saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Edwards continue in the spirit of Interstellar Space but add a few twists and turns of their own. "Dark Desert starts off with intense energy, both musicians with impressive control not only in their physical approach on their respective instruments but also in their sonic focus. Ideas are followed through on, as these musicians are definitely on the same page. On "Amrita (Soma), Edwards sets up a kind of bolero/rumba feel and Flaherty changes his approach. So many times when a drummer sets up a groove and a musician (say a saxophonist) plays over the groove in such a way, you get the impression that he (or she) is doing the exact same thing he would do without the groove—in other words not really listening to the drummer. It's clear that Flaherty respects Edwards and they are musically communicating to bring the listener on a journey. The resultant sound is to the point, not just ego-tripping or physically exercising, but great spontaneous composition.

Peter Brotzmann/Nasheet Waits
Live at the 'Bottle' Fest

The Brötzmann/Waits duo was recorded live at Chicago's Empty Bottle in front of what sounds like a very appreciative audience. Like Kaivalya, this recording begins with intense energy. "Nr. 2, however starts off very soft, with Brötzmann on clarinet, and paradoxically these moments dramatically stand out. It's a risk to play really soft when you are known for being an energetic fireball. The risk pays off. Waits is surprising in the intensity and commitment of his free playing, but when he does hit a groove, Brötzmann is a little less capable of playing ball in Waits' court. It's a small criticism; Brötzmann does give space to Waits and his use of clarinet and tarogato make this disc sonically rich in texture.

Both recordings are excellent, but I favor the underdogs, Flaherty and Edwards, because of recording quality and conceptual focus.

Tracks and Personnel

Kaivalya Volume 1

Tracks: Dark Desert; Small Doorway; Amrita(Soma); Pillows for Mummies; Janagama; Mahabharasta.

Personnel: Paul Flaherty: alto and tenor saxophone; Marc Edwards: drums.

Live at the 'Bottle' Fest

Tracks: Nr.1 alto.drums; Nr.2 cl-tenor/drums; Nr.3 tarogato/drums; Nr.4 alto/drums

Personnel: Peter Brotzman: alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet, tarogato; Nasheet Waits: drums.


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