There is a surprise in store on Brooklyn tenor saxophonist Stephen Gauci's Studio Sessions Volume 3. Not only is celebrated erstwhile guitarist and bassist Joe Morris an unexpected face alongside the reedman, but this time out he features on an unfamiliar instrument, seated behind the drum kit for the two lengthy excursions into uncharted territory. However, it is not all new; bassist Adam Lane, one of Gauci's most regular collaborators who regularly anchors the hornman's quartet, completes the line up.
Morris shows himself to be an accomplished drummer in the free jazz style, generating a wall of sound chatter which allows Gauci freedom to move in whichever direction he wishes, but also results in more of a continuous flow than the sometimes fragmented ethos of Gauci's work with his quartet. Whether it is Morris' influence or not, the reedman hews much closer to the fire music tradition than is often the case, although the muscular middle register and gruff bottom end that he excavates nonetheless come peppered by frequent sorties into a characteristic piping falsetto.
The first untitled improvisation reveals a resolutely group music, with Gauci often in the foreground, and only brief unaccompanied spots. Morris' tumbling clatter and Lane's nimble pizzicato blizzard set up a shuffling momentum, before Gauci joins in crusty roughshod vein. Highlights include a glorious string of split tone honks punctuating an outpouring which itself suggests distant allusions to the saxophonist's bop grounding.
Later still, the interplay quietens to leave Lane alone, sawing a drone while simultaneously picking on one string to create a sitar-like effect. Those instances when Lane wields the bow also yield some of the most memorable moments in the second improvisation, which embarks in a choppier mode than its predecessor, before ending with the bassist locked into a repeated pattern, as Gauci intersperses staccato wickering and abrasive blurts into an extended legato workout to achieve a satisfying closure.
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