Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

158

Marshall Allen / Lou Grassi: Live At The Guelph Festival

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Marshall Allen and Lou Grassi make quite a duo. On Live At The Guelph Festival, they play unprepared and unrehearsed music which, due to their skill, has a remarkable degree of coherence. Admittedly, this is free or avant-garde jazz, requiring coherence to be understood within that framework.

Allen is currently leading the Sun Ra Arkestra, after both Sun Ra (1993) and John Gilmore (1995) died, while Grassi has become something of the house percussionist at the CIMP and Cadence record labels. They had never played as a duo, and this meeting was arranged by festival director Ajay Heble.

Each piece develops spontaneously as does the entire set. The chances taken can be heard, as can each musician's reactions in the moment. For the listener, becoming aware and hence appreciating what is happening is what this kind of music is about.

The liner notes give no hint as to whether the names of the tunes were announced and edited out of the recording. The listener can, however, read the names while listening, and try and discern them throughout the improvisations. On the two standards, "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Prelude to a Kiss," Allen is masterful in making oblique references to each tune's structure and, surprisingly, plays melodically most of the time, with but a few of the squeals and outbursts for which he is known.

The effect of listening carefully and hearing the tune being filled in, ever so delicately, is marvelous. Grassi is always right there, never playing an outright pulse, but rather creating melodic rhythm that comments, supports and urges Allen on. "When You Wish Upon a Star, being almost twenty minutes, is a textbook lesson in allowing the music to take its own time to develop without expectations, the music's sense created and understood moment-to-moment. Subsequent listens confirm, by familiarity, what was merely felt before.

The three central tracks are pure improvisations. On "Far Side," Allen plays flute, while Grassi uses his hands on the drums, and the energy is lowered after the towering sounds of "When You Wish Upon a Star." Allen plays delicately and the interaction with Grassi is actually soothing.

"Blues For Two" is not strictly a blues in structure, but rather is deeply blues drenched by Allen's phrases and Grassi's drumming, while "The Spirit of the Day" slowly takes shape from its simple and playful start, getting raucous at the end.

Allen's closing "Boma" has an actual thematic phrase, which is enunciated and repeated by Allen and taken through some harmonic changes. As this piece works itself out, Grassi maintains a curtain of sound, allowing Allen to build and react.

Live At The Guelph Festival is utterly convincing music that, in retrospect, feels inevitable.

Visit Marshall Allen and Lou Grassi on the web.

Track Listing: Spoken introduction; When You Wish Upon a Star; Far Side; Blues For Two; The Spirit of the Day; Prelude to a Kiss; Boma.

Personnel: Marshall Allen: alto saxophone, flute; Lou Grassi: drums, percussion.

Title: Live At The Guelph Festival | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Cadence Jazz Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Port Of Call

Port Of Call

NoBusiness Records
2017

buy
Live At The Knitting Factory Volume 1

Live At The Knitting...

Porter Records
2011

buy
Live At The Guelph Festival

Live At The Guelph...

Cadence Jazz Records
2007

buy
The Dope And The Ghost

The Dope And The Ghost

Not Two Records
2007

buy
 

Infinite POtential

CIMP Records
2007

buy
 

Shapes and Shadows

Clean Feed Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019