All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Phil Minton Quartet: Slur

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Phil Minton is virtually alone in blazing a trail for the male vocalist in freely improvised music and this is one of his very infrequent outings as a group leader. In his notes for the accompanying booklet he refers to having toyed with the idea of singing words on this disc. The fact that he could apparently see no point in doing so might just be the thing that makes this music so successful, as the intrusion of words might only have rendered earthbound music that occupies a far more nebulous, more intriguing place.

The subversion of the setting of vocalist with accompanying trio is also greatly significant, and to hear the likes of "A Bit More is to hear the work of a vocalist more attuned to the idea of being a part of a greater musical whole rather than one egotistical enough to command centre-stage. All the members of the quartet confirm here just how conversant and fluent they are in the language of free play, and the dynamics produced accordingly are nothing if not unique.

Anyone who welcomes the downright unexpected is similarly in for a treat on "Lower Down, where saxophonist John Butcher offers up ample evidence of just how much ground he's covered in his journey of sonic exploration and Roger Turner teases out the possibilities when a percussionist uses an augmented range of materials. The results are both evidence of an integrated group whole and, on a level equally fundamental, a meeting of minds.

"Far Off finds Minton coming as close as he ever does to verbal communication, but even here it's only in the form of single syllables, half-formed words or perhaps the sounds of some impromptu language he invented in the moment. With pianist Veryan Weston's contribution the devil would seem to be in the detail, not least because of the skill with which he teases out lines and sounds, sparing in the application of both where he could have been bombastic.

"Back is an exercise in contrast with much of the music on offer here, as it has about it an air of almost claustrophobic brooding. Minton explores his lower register and again the others prove just how skilled they are in an avoidance of the obvious that's far from studied. They produce small filigrees of sound and Minton, in the setting this evokes, again hints at known language at around the four-minute mark; his avoidance of it is more than welcome

It's probably no kind of aid at all to highlight just how far removed from the tried and trusted this music is. This does not however alter the fact that the practitioners of it have to be every bit as skilled in what they do as musicians working in any other field. This quartet is made up of four such practitioners, and their efforts result in music that's meat and drink for the adventurously minded.

Track Listing: Almost There; Lower Down; Higher; A Bit More; Far Off; Closer; Back; Length.

Personnel: Phil Minton: voice; John Butcher: soprano and tenor saxophones; Veryan Weston: piano; Roger Turner: percussion.

Title: Slur | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Emanem


comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
DVD/Film Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Live In Healdsburg CD/LP/Track Review
Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Carpe Diem CD/LP/Track Review
Carpe Diem
by Don Phipps
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Exotica CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Oriental Orbit CD/LP/Track Review
Oriental Orbit
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Brightbird CD/LP/Track Review
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Salão Brazil" CD/LP/Track Review Salão Brazil
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Off Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Off Beat
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Color Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Color Tones
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Domains" CD/LP/Track Review Domains
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 13, 2017