Michael Bisio / MMBC: MMBC Terma

Karl Ackermann By

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Michael Bisio / MMBC: MMBC Terma
Among the side effects of the 2020-2021 pandemic has been the rediscovery of misplaced resources. The trio MMBC dug up the fourteen-year-old recording MMBC Terma, a collection of nine group compositions and improvisations. MMBC is an acronym condensing the initials of the players. Tenor saxophonist (and psychoanalyst) Michael Monhart and drummer Ben Chadabe are lightly-recorded; acclaimed bassist-composer Michael Bisio rounds out the group and is best known for his work with Matthew Shipp.

The chronologically ordered tracks reveal a collection which should never have been left in the vault. Monhart and Chadabe, whose inspirations include Milford Graves, dominate the brief "mmbc01," a lyrical but idiosyncratic piece which gives way to the exotic opening of "mmbc02." Monhart, who carries this one alone, begins by invoking the sound of an ocarina on the sax, then moves to the natural tenor sound on a striking piece. "mmbc03" initially puts Bisio up front as he scrapes the strings, setting a somber tone which Monhart and Chadabe quickly decimate. Taking the frenetic pace close to breaking point, the trio gradually retreats, easing the intensity.

The second half of MMBC Terma lands in more esoteric territory. "mmbc04" has an exotic, Eastern undercurrent and leads into a Chadabe solo number that is both resonant and nimble. At more than fourteen minutes, "mmbc07" is the most free-wheeling piece on the album. Monhart and Chadabe bounce into as many disparities as possible, and Bisio makes his presence deep and distinct, even while providing the anchor in some very complicated passages. Bisio's nomadic, exploring bass sounds superb on "mmbc08" as he meets with a sympathetic, probing sax and Chadabe's primal rhythms.

MMBC Terma has an energy which seems to pour out of every piece, increasing depth and feeling. The trio creates sounds of otherworldly serenity and, alternately, colliding worlds. Monhart, Chadabe, and Bisio have plenty to say, and this album makes one wish they had created a larger body of work as a unit. Bisio has said that he hopes his music is a healing force; it is very much so on this album, which grows with repeated listening. The CD cover features the fascinating visual art of Dawn Bisio, Michael's wife.

Track Listing

mmbc01; mmbc02; mmbc03; mmbc04; mmbc05; mmbc06; mmbc07; mmbc08; mmbc09.


Michael Bisio: bass, acoustic; Michael Monhart: saxophone; Ben Chadabe: drums.

Album information

Title: MMBC Terma | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced

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