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Thollem / Parker / Cline: The Gowanus Sessions

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "Lives"

Glaring expressionism coupled with rip-roaring layers of acoustic-electric sound-sculpting maneuvers yield the bountiful fruit on this manifold studio date. When guitarist Nels Cline isn't tearing it up with the popular alt-rock band Wilco, he's knee-deep in progressive-jazz, free-form experimental and jazz-rock formats. He's catapulted to the upper echelon of modern guitarists, paralleling the colossal faculties of bassist William Parker and pianist Thollem McDonas.

Parker has been a perennial driving force behind the reshaping of jazz along with the improvisational paradigms that follow, and generates a propulsive yet, at times, pensive undertow on the sixteen-minute "Lives." As McDonas kicks it off with a loosely organized series of trickling ethereal notes, insinuating a spiritual perimeter of sorts.

The artists align their wares via a feeling out process, energized by Cline's note-bending exercises and strings scraping techniques, leading to a spiraling improvisational fest, designed with overlapping statements and intense three-way conversations. Lucid imagery remains a continuum as the trio's linear onslaughts intimate harrowing backdrops, abetted by Parker's creaky and ominously designed phrasings

"Lives" vividly mimics the human condition for all of its ups and downs, while showcasing this trio's striking creativity and soul-probing modalities.

Personnel: Thollem McDonas: piano; William Parker: bass; Nels Cline: electric guitar.

Title: The Gowanus Sessions | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Porter Records

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