Prim and Primal
is a cool name for a record. It does, however, take some balls to put out a record with such a title. It leaves listeners with deep expectations. To paraphrase the old saying, though, "It's okay to talk the talk if you can walk the walk." Alto saxophonist Adam Nolan
has a pair of rhythm section mates, double bassist Derek Whyte
and drummer Dominic Mullan
, that step and groove to the same beats. Collectively they improvise from start to finish through six original songs. Although the word "songs" doesn't accurately characterize what are six expansive journeys into the unknown. Free jazz? Sure. But with powerful improvisational symmetry, as opposed to the drift into outer space. They have a conversational style and produce as much visual imagery as your headspace will allow at high momentum. Every musical adventure is initiated by a Nolan visual concept that is shared with Whyte and Mullan moments before kicking into the piece. It's reactionary not rehearsed.
Mullan has clearly listened to a Tony Williams
record or twelve and perhaps at least eleven by Elvin Jones
. Ron Carter
has made an indelible impression on Whyte. They pay homage to the greats, but it is much more than that. Mullan and Whyte both expand on that significant early 1960s sound, as well as moving it forward with modern edges. It's almost unfathomable that the trio had never recorded together before. Certainly the Irish trio had spent time in the studio improvising and feeling each other's chops. In fact, the record has a three o'clock in the morning after everyone else had gone home vibe. Well into it, well focused, no disturbances, just feeling it, jamming, and improvising and then feeling it, jamming, and improvising some more.
It's more difficult to target the biggest influences on Nolan. They may be from outer space, as few earthlings have that kind of lung capacity. What he does musically inside those long winded furloughs is as remarkable as his open minded and creative note selections. All on the fly, improvisational, and indeed primal. Nolan reaches down into a guttural level that is somewhere between mind blowing and magnificent. He gets responses from his bandmates that at times have interplay logic or reactive quality. Just as often the return is starting up their own elements, adding them to the mix, and giving Nolan something else to play with, respond to, or not. The next note, the next exchange, is never obvious.
Nolan, in truth, has sound bites of a few legends. That list might include Ornette Coleman
, Eric Dolphy
, Sam Rivers
, Phil Woods
and Jackie McLean
. But make no mistake, he is very original, and has his own unique tonality. Spontaneous, in the moment, exciting, and surely original, the Adam Nolan Trio brings freshness and a bold approach to the jazz world. A free jazzer's delight, it's all together possible that the jazz listener who digs deft improvisation may get even more out of this record.
Expand the Tempo;
The Modern Jazz Trio;
Ancient Mayan Jungle;
The Magic Carpet; Kung Fu Master Vs The Ape (in a smoking area).