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Sonic Openings Under Pressure: Muhheankuntuk

Nic Jones By

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For all of its commitment to a different aesthetic this could be a trio that takes its cues from the Ornette Coleman trio from some forty odd years ago with David Izenzon on bass and drummer Charles Moffett. As is so often the case, however, the comparison is as much hindrance as it is help in assessing the music they produce.

The bass-drums cartel of Hilliard Greene and David Pleasant is coherent and propulsive enough in its own right to prompt thoughts of a duo album. The fact that they lend such force to alto saxophonist Patrick Brennan's flights makes for the kind of listening that's both stimulating and deeply satisfying, lending substance to the idea that time spent in the company of this music is time well spent.

"Abundant' is both an apt title and a case in point. Brennan's work here has something in common with Marion Brown in the sense that his lines seem similarly pared down, stripped of excess. Pleasant comes on either like a perpetual motion machine or a kind of post-modern Elvin Jones, lending the music a momentum it would otherwise have lacked.

The rhythmic vitality of Greene and Pleasant is not, by any means, merely compensatory for the lack of harmonic input, however. Instead, this is music exhibiting a different kind of intimacy, giving rise in places to the notion that the listener is somehow eavesdropping. This is perhaps most evident on the lengthy 'The Terrible 3s, where Greene's solo bass is commented upon by Brennan and Pleasant in turn, as if the three musicians are, in the best sense, in thrall to their collective musical endeavor.

The aptly titled "Flash Of The Spirit features the trio of alto sax, harmonica and bass in sympathetic fashion, making for music paradoxically both warm and desolate; evocative, perhaps, of some blasted landscape made non-alien only by the human presence. This is especially evident when Brennan momentarily drops out to let harmonica and bass check each other out in some approximation of the move to understanding.

Placed half way through the program, "'The Hardships speaks of fundamental truths through Pleasant's rapping. On first listen it sounds anomalous, but repeated listening reveals it to be something else entirely, namely a kind of call-to-arms in the midst of music that speaks, if not of higher consciousness, then at least of how the interaction implicit in making music is and can be some kind of social panacea.

Track Listing: Tilting Curvaceous; Abundant; Flash Of The Spirit; The Hardships; Prosified; The Terrible 3s; Permeations Gumvindaboloo.

Personnel: Patrick Brennan: alto sax; Hilliard Greene: bass; David Pleasant: percussion, harmonica, voice.

Title: Muhheankuntuk | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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