98

Charlie Kohlhase Quintet: Play Free or Die

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Charlie Kohlhase Quintet: Play Free or Die Saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase is perhaps best known for holding down the baritone sax chair in the Boston area's under-appreciated ten man Either/Orchestra. Working now with a pianoless quintet, he's hooked up with Boxholder Records for a live double CD, Play Free or Die. A live one indeed. It's an energized set, something akin to an Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry/Dewey Redman sound, and if you approach live recordings with some trepidation – due to historically poor sound quality, absymal mixes, and irritatingly distracting crowd noises – fear not. John Turner, the set's bassist, sound engineer, and recordist, captured the energy and freshness of live performance with near studio-quality sound.

"Pigpile" opens the disc with trumpeter John Carlson working alone, whining around a plunger mute for a minute, until the ensemble – saxophones, bass and drums – looms in to build to a channeled three horn cacophony.

It's a free jazz atmosphere, though accessible to anyone who's familiar with that genre, and while "Grasping at Straws" has a bleak and lonely sound, "Doom is Yours" and "Doom is Mine" (24 minutes' worth; two parts of the "Doom Suite") radiate sonic adenaline.

Bassist John Turner stands out on the latter track, propulsive and free-blowing, working a deeply ominous groove, rounding out a tune that could serve as a soundtrack for Edgar Allen Poe's "Tell Tale Heart," the horns acting as three increasingly maniacal narrators.

The second disc opens in a mainstream mode with Sun Ra's "Super Bronze," capable of passing for a three-horn Charlie Parker Dial Records session, followed by Monk's always beautiful "Crepuscule with Nellie," played with reverence and sounding like the composer himself on Monk's Music.

Then there's "The Mad Suite," fifty-plus minutes of take-no-prisoners free jazz with driving rhythms and bellicose horns, moments of relative mainstream sound interspersed with wild saxophone wails that'll peel the enamel off your teeth. And I mean that in the best possible way.

One of the year's outstanding live sets.

Contact Boxholder Records at Boxholdr@aol.com

Track Listing: Pigpile, Grasping at Sttaws, Doom is Yours, Doom is Mine, It's Just the tip of the Icebox, Super Bronze, Crepuscule with Nellie, "The Mad Suite": Mad, Framework, Play Free or Die, The Brink

Personnel: Charlie Kohlhase--alto, tenor, and baritone sax; Matt Langley--tenor sax; John Carlson--trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn; John Turner--bass; Eric Rossenthal--drums

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Boxholder Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read One Minute Later CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° CD/LP/Track Review JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800°
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Ephimeral CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Fly or Die CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "The Long Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Journey Home
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Imaginist" CD/LP/Track Review Imaginist
by Mike Jacobs
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Gorgeous Chaos" CD/LP/Track Review Gorgeous Chaos
by James Nadal
Published: May 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!