Oregon's Louie Records continues to provide a platform for jazz artists who favor free, improvised jazz rather than trying to work in a structured environment. Rich Halley has been a member of that club for several years, starting with his first album for the Avocet label in 1984. This is his second album for Louie as he continues to work with members of his regular trio, Clyde Reed on bass and Dave Storrs, the brains behind the label, on drums. All of the items on the play list are Halley's, except for "Over the Rainbow". The Halley pieces are filled with different textures and rhythms all designed to allow the listener to reach his/her own conclusion on the image they create. There's lots of different sounds created by the multi reed player as he moves from tenor and soprano saxophones, through wood flute and percussion. "Thickets/Pavement", for example, is a melange of sound and motion filtering from the speakers as Halley stretches the capacity of the tenor sax to the limits working over Storrs' clattering, shattering drums. Storrs, here and elsewhere, adds a variety of vocal incantations that evoke a variety of passions, mostly awe with what's going on. Halley, for one cut, discards the avant-garde and free jazz for his excursion with "Over the Rainbow" where he captures, in his own modern, melodic way, E. Y. Harburg's kingdom over the rainbow where happy little bluebirds fly, even though the kingdom may be somewhat more "cool" than envisioned by the composer and the bluebirds may have been weaned up on John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins rather than Stan Getz and Coleman Hawkins..
Like all of the releases by Louie, the music on this set is not an easy assimilate. But after a few hearings, it all starts coming together as the talents of these players and the music they're playing strive to reach a creative zenith. Visit Halley at www.penofin.com/halley.htm.
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