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Album Review

Kuzu: Purple Dark Opal


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Kuzu: Purple Dark Opal
Thank your lucky stars that Kuzu's previous disc Hiljaisuus (Aerophonic/Astral Spirits, 2019) was not a one-off meeting. That recording, their first concert together in 2017, inspired the trio to tour and explore their brand of free jazz. Purple Dark Opal, recorded live in Milwaukee in October 2018, found the trio in the midst of an extended concert tour. Documented here is proof they were indeed firing on all cylinders.

"To The Quick" is a single, nearly hour-long track, but it could easily have been sequenced as several tracks. Saxophonist Dave Rempis recruited the duo of guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer Tyler Damon to fashion this music, which merges more passion and emotions than a David Mamet play. Opening with some quiet drumming, the music picks up momentum with guitar hum and Rempis' patient plaintiff calls. His alto warms to the impetus laid down by Damon. and Dorji picks through taut guitar notes. There is a sense of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) that permeates this concert. As Coltrane drew from jazz, gospel, and Eastern music, Kuzu do too, updating their approach with rock, metal and the tools of free jazz. We hear Rempis' patented rip, tear, crunch sound, but also there is a tranquility about this music not found in most free jazz.

A quarter of the way through, the fury calms into breathy popped notes, bells, and echoey strummed guitar. This restfulness is followed-up with bulging baritone notes, a sort of blues played against the minimalist accompaniment of Dorji and Damon. As the momentum picks up, the trio ignites energy music, and a scorching targeted sound. The trio, though, always circles back to a three-way interaction, where each individual pulls or, maybe better, pushes the music in different directions. Winding down, the sound culminates not unlike "Psalm" from A Love Supreme, with Damon as Elvin Jones, signaling the resolution as if all prayers were said.

Track Listing

To The Quick.


Dave Rempis: saxophone; Tashi Dorji: guitar; Tyler Damon: drums.

Album information

Title: Purple Dark Opal | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Aerophonic Records

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