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In leafing through the history pages of jazz it’s far more common to find groups named after a clearly defined leader than operating under a collective moniker. The whole template of leader and sidemen is an integral component of the tradition and the prominence of individual players’ names in the music’s nomenclature has always been pronounced. Whatever a group’s size, from trio to tentet, the likelihood of a player assuming a leadership role and taking top billing is often high.
When it comes to collectively improvised music the borders between leader and sidemen Murphy’s staccato cymbal-fire. His horn eventually drops out and Parker’s amplified bass figures move to the fore circled by Murphy’s frugal drum fills. The amplification deadens Parker’s strings to a degree, but given the concert setting its presence is understandable. After sitting out for a spell Spearman eventually returns for an abrupterode out of necessity. In the case of assemblages like Trio Hurricane such distinctions become completely superfluous. These three men operate as an organic unit from the onset mirroring the weather pattern of their sobriquet in both elemental force and kinetic velocity. Spearman’s dry-toned tenor kicks up a tremulous sirocco of sound on “Initiation,” swirling in accelerated confluence with Parker’s darting plucks and unison close to the piece.
Murphy’s drum patterns initiate “Blues For John & Frank” at a more modest pace followed first by Parker and then by Spearman who moves effortlessly between split-toned screams and linear lyricism. Both John Coltrane and Frank Wright, the recipients of the piece, would no doubt be pleased by the homage. “Tones For William” is primarily Parker’s show and serves as a stunning expose for his unrivaled arco work. Shaving broad harmonic ribbons from his strings he creates an oscillating drone backdrop for Spearman’s rasping and keening tones that threatens to overwhelm the amps. The moods of “N.Y.N.Y.” interchange from moments of melodic composure to passages of crescendoing cacophony and back again. Parker’s solo on the piece that mixes cleaving bow work with snapped string punctuation is cause enough to revisit this piece again and again.
This disc and another offering on Soul Note represent the complete discography of the group. Though a pair of outings may seem paltry in number the heights of creative catharsis attained by the players on both demonstrate that the old adage of quality over quantity definitely holds true in the realm of improvised music. Even more importantly the music of Trio Hurricane expounds the benefits that can be reaped by subjugating the individual ego to greater good of the group; a valuable lesson that many musicians still have yet to learn.
Tracks:Initiation/ Blues For John & Frank/ Tones For William/ N.Y.N.Y/ The Natural.
Players:Paul Murphy- drums; William Parker- bass; Glenn Spearman- tenor saxophone.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.