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Bob Magnuson-Tom DeSteno Quartet: Omens

Derek Taylor By

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Ironically the two leaders on this session are probably less known than their higher profile sidemen. Duval and Moondoc have left their marks are all over the creative improvised music map when it comes to recording. In contrast, Magnuson and DeSteno, who have been musical associates since high school, have only recently had the opportunity to record, thanks primarily to attention and support of producer Bob Rusch. The music on this disc argues persuasively that the wait has been worth it. The only shame is that their chance didn’t come sooner.

Nearly everything about this date exudes balance. The compositions are largely the product of all four players with the exception of the Alyeresque “We Don’t” which is borrowed from the Denis Charles song book (a collection that begs to be mined more often). Solo and ensemble passages are evenly shared and barnstorming blowing is equitably mixed more ruminative lyricism. Sections of spontaneous improvisation strike an easy alliance with pre-planned structure. In the cumulative count all of this symmetry results in an intensely enjoyable body of music.

Magnuson and Moondoc are proportionally matched and the latter’s conversational harmelodicism blends invitingly with the former’s sturdy versatility. As a rhythm team, DeSteno and Duval are also sympathetic pair. But the tightest interplay often takes place between the co-leaders who uncannily seem to anticipate each other’s moves such as on the introductory section of the collectively improvised “Nonau.” Even on brief pieces like “Highrise,” which works off an intriguing call and response pattern, the musicians are able to pack an amazing amount of variety into their music. Longer pieces like the ominous “The Wall” move from melodic interludes to moments of heated free improvisation with similar success. The quartet runs on all cylinders for the duration of the program and their stamina is as inspiring as it is dramatic. Magnuson and DeSteno are important players who will hopefully continue to release chronicles of their music together.

Tracks:Chant One/ We Don’t/ Nonau/ Highrise/ Fortu Sicksninenine B/ The Wall/ Gamoud/ Sink.


Personnel: Bob Magnuson- tenor saxophone; Tom DeSteno- drums; Jemeel Moondoc- alto saxophone; Dominic Duval- Bass.

Recorded: July 19 & 20, 1999, Rossie, NY.

CIMP recordings are available directly through North Country Distributors- http://www.cadencebuilding.com

Title: Omens | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: CIMP Records


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