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Although legitimate releases, both these sessions, on guitarist Terrence McManus' own Flattened Planet Records, have the look, feel, intimacy and immediacy of the best bootlegs. The cleverly constructed Thirty9Thirty8 is an encounter with inventive trumpeter Dave Ballou while Live at the Clown Lounge inserts McManus into the Fat Kid Wednesdays trio to create a power quartet.
McManus is a product of the free-formish improvisational jazz scene and he is able to run with the best of that pack including a current stint with bassist Kermit Driscoll's trio. His fluid style, which can range from delicate to killer fuzz, is tailor-made for both these sessions. Recorded at a club in Ballou's Baltimore backyard, Thirty9Thirty8 rests on the premise that the only constraint on these musicians is the time of each cut. Their ideas are largely realized with three engaging improvs titled to reflect their times that, along with McManus' delightfully varied playing, showcase Ballou's mastery of his horn. Ballou shines on a number of fronts but most notably tone and inventive lines that include some exquisite minor modal playing on the opening track. Drummer Devin Gray acts as a conduit between Ballou and McManus allowing ample room for the guitarist's breadth. This is clearly the lighter of the two sessions despite doses of electric guitar sound sheeting to kick things off.
While St. Paul, Minn. may seem like an unlikely venue for this sort of thing, its Clown Lounge has played host to some of the country's best creative music for some time. Once again, McManus engages the homeboys in selecting the entire trio Fat Kid Wednesdays, a house band of sorts at the Clown Lounge, to round out this quartet. Saxophonist Michael Lewis is wonderfully lyrical and matches McManus' subtlety on a very memorable reworking of the standard "The Days of Wine and Roses as well as engaging in a smorgasbord of in-tandem in-your-face sax/guitar creativity. The rhythm section of bassist Adam Linz and drummer JT Bates has an exceedingly palpable depth that adds a rich coloration to these tunes that cut across a broad range of forms and formats. McManus is always there with just the right sound whether dropping back to create intriguing chordal surroundings, sharpen the shearingly spiky "Mom Got a New Davenport or play counterpoint to the deliciously funky rhythm cooked up for "Creepy . These two gigs, outside comfortable NYC environs, present McManus in diverse and motivating company.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: eight30four; nine40two; twenty1nineteen.
Personnel: Dave Ballou: trumpet; Terrence McManus: guitar; Devin Gray: drums.
Live at the Clown Lounge
Tracks: Mom Got a New Davenport; Creepy; The Days of Wine and Roses; Novemmber; Private, I; Union.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.