You never know what path British reedman, multi-instrumentalist Martin Archer will traverse. Whether he's leading orchestral units, freely improvised trios, avant-rock and electronics tinged fare or his recordings with legendary rock and jazz vocalist Julie Tippetts, the artist underscores his experimental implementations with the element of surprise. On this quartet date with his fellow countrymen, Archer occasionally interweaves an abstract Birth of the Cool type vibe with forceful mini-motifs, sublime melodies and hearty improvisational sectors. Moreover, each musician contributes one composition amid this democratically fabricated engagement that is built with structural components and contrasting powerplays featuring themes that implicate a beauty and the beast framed overture. Here, the quartet's feisty inner-workings combine warmth and jubilance with a few maddening breakouts.
Archer's "It's Not Finished" is the lengthiest piece, clocking in at nearly 20-minutes. And it's a hybrid scenario as Archer dishes out hardcore sax lines, complemented by vibraphonist Corey Mwamba's delicately textured notes along with the frontline's deft unison choruses and fluid cadences. They also cycle through a simple, yet somewhat mesmeric ostinato motif where Seth Bennett lays down a busy but productive foundation and ingrains his voice into the heart of matters. There are muscular movements, plaintive squeals and bluesy outbursts.
The tide turns on the funky "What on Earth Could You Mean?," as the saxophonist and vibraphonist pump it up, along with some musical rough-housing. Archer's aggressive alto sax solo parallels an argumentative human voice. Nonetheless, the program covers a lot of ground, complemented by disparate angles and bundles of persuasive contrasts. It's yet another strong entry in Archer's wide-raging discography that comprises a horde of enterprising formats and cross- pollinated instances of the progressive jazz vernacular.
Four Free to One; It’s Not Finished; What on Earth Could You Mean?; Alsten;
Martin Archer: alto and sopranino saxophones; Corey Mwamba: vibraphone; Seth
Bennett: double bass; Peter Fairclough: drums.