With his long white beard and fiercely uncompromising attitude, alto/tenor saxophonist Paul Flaherty comes across as a typical New England eccentric and is stubbornly devoted to playing free, offering featherweight whispers to the deepest guttural roar and everything in between.
On many of his past recordings, Flaherty has been paired in a duo with a simpatico drummer: initially Randall Colbourne and more recently Chris Corsano. In October of 2003, Flaherty went into the studio with Marc Edwards, a self-described power drummer. True to form, the tracks on Kaivalya Vol. #2 are long and neither player ever lets up. Edwards' touch is enveloping and insistent as he creates hypnotically persistent rhythms that meet Flaherty's fury head on. This is cloudy music infused with an unexpected but welcome warmth to temper the firestorm.
On Bridge Out!, a reunion of sorts for Flaherty and Colbourne, the improvisations are less frenetic and more exploratory as the pair builds a spatial intimacy that may have resulted from the basement studio that hosted this session (Flaherty calls it the smallest he'd ever imagined). Close proximity lets these players glide and shift with the graceful suddenness of a flock of birds and as much as these improvisations might exhaust the listener, it's easy and gratifying to get the sense of being a part of a labor of love.
Simitu is the second release from Cold Bleak Heat, comprised of Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano along with bassist Matt Heyner and trumpeter Greg Kelley. This band, however, is more than an impenetrable, braying collective. It does sound bigger than its four pieces, but the instruments match and complement each other's sonorities in textural, nuanced ways. There is a melancholy undercurrent to their continuous searching as trumpet and saxophones bleat, bowed bass squeaks in unison with the sax and Corsano kicks with the force of a mule's hindquarters. On the somberly beautiful "A White Bandaged Head in the Shadow of Death," the band weeps, wails and moans, flashing on moments of lyricism that are soon obliterated in what amounts to a raging hymn.
30 years ago, Paul Flaherty got together with some other western Connecticut misfits to play and record as the group Orange. One LP (pressed in a quantity of 200) came from the experience and In the Midst of Chaos presents four young idealists pulling, for the most part, in four different directions. Trained electric guitarist Barry Greika wanted a conventional jazz band. Flaherty wanted nothing else but to play freely, with electric bassist Bob Laramie and red-haired drummer Hobbit coming down somewhere in the middle. Flaherty ratchets the bluster down a notch, more influenced by The Son (Pharoah Sanders) at this stage than The Holy Ghost (Albert Ayler), shaking bells and vocalizing here and there and much of the program is given over to the electric stylings of Greika and Laramie. But while neighboring New Hampshire may have had dibs on it, this CD marked the point in time when four musicians made their case for a new Connecticut state motto: Play Free or Die.
Tracks and Personnel
Kaivalya Vol. #2
Tracks: Kundalini Awakening; No One Gets Out Alive; Samadi; Potbellied Stove; Where No One Is at Home
Personnel: Paul Flaherty: alto & tenor saxophone; Marc Edwards: drums
Tracks: Scorched Onslaught; Marauding Toxic Fungus; Ice Spike; Rhubarb; Gilded Plague; Thirsty Thorns; More Lasting Than Bronze; Spiders in Her Hair
Personnel: Paul Flaherty: alto & tenor saxophone; Randall Colbourne: drums
Tracks: The Voice of the People Is the Voice of God; Should We Destroy the Hubble?; Mugged by a Glacier; Pound Cake; A White Bandaged Head in the Shadow of Death; To Understand All Is to Forgive All
Personnel: Paul Flaherty: alto & tenor saxophone; Chris Corsano: drums; Matthew Heyner: bass; Greg Kelley: trumpet
In the Midst of Chaos
Tracks: Golden Falcons; Om Shanti; The Liquid Nature Of; And Then She Appeared in the Midst of Chaos; Peace; Release From; Sad Joy; Broccoli; The Jamel Voice; Sunset Beyond the Safety; Subway Over the Rainbow
Personnel: Paul Flaherty: alto saxophone; Barry Greika: electric guitar; Bob Laramie: electric bass; Hobbit: drums; additional musicians.