When tenor saxophonist Stephen Gauci was offered a set at Brooklyn's Scholes Street Studio performance space in December 2019 he leapt at the chance. At short notice he pulled together three former duet partners in the classic jazz quartet formation, though they had never previously performed as a single unit. So this is both the group's first recording and its first appearance. Safe to say, it probably won't be the last.
Argentinian pianist Santiago Leibson gives the date a distinctive character with a percussive jabbing style which tends to the treble extreme of the keyboard. As a consequence he allows lots of room and air for Shawn Lovato's bass and Colin Hinton's drums to fill the bottom end. His rhythmic prodding also meshes well with Gauci, punctuating his idiosyncratic mix of juddering overtones, sinuous upper-register screeches and crusty overblowing. They spontaneously navigate two long-form pieces, the first over half an hour, the second less than a quarter that duration.
In fact the whole foursome proves well balanced, combining intensely, sharing an ethos based on energy, color and movement within the free jazz milieu. With savvy operators like these, an array of different permutations arose serendipitously during the concert. In just one example of in-the-moment decision-making, during the longer track, as a passage created from Hinton's tumbling drum avalanche and Gauci's gruff mid-range interjections finishes, the momentum is picked up immediately by a sparse piano and pizzicato bass staccato to instigate the next in a sequence of peaks and troughs.
The reedman begins the second cut with a scratchy soliloquy, lurching between stentorian blurts and wavering squeals, before everyone else piles in with bustling interaction. When he pitches lower, Gauci's phrasing betrays his bop roots, though he doesn't stay there long before he veers once more into the stratosphere. As he ascends, Leibson careers up the scales in pursuit in another appealing confluence. Subsequently, Lovato anchors more ruminative exchanges with a riff-like figure, before the improvisation closes with a mercurial saxophone/piano twosome, in a satisfying echo of a combination which launched the whole album.
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