John O'Gallagher: The Honeycomb

Dan McClenaghan BY

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John O'Gallagher: The Honeycomb
Bring up the trio format, one with an alto saxophone, bass and drums, and Ornette Coleman, alto man extraordinaire, might come to mind, especially those fantastic Blue Note Records sets, The Ornette Coleman Trio at the Golden Circle Stockholm, Volume One and Two (1965). In fact, alto saxophonist John O'Gallagher, on The Honeycomb, has a lyricism not unlike Coleman's, a similar sharp, keening tone. Add to this a geometrical compositional structuring to the tunes, and a predominance from Gallagher's horn of short, sharp declarative lines, as opposed to Coleman's loopy twisting serpentine melodies.

There is a purity and beauty in O'Gallagher's concise approach here. His melodies, with the staccato saxophone sentences, are Hemingway-esque on this set where composition seems on an equal footing with the freedom of improvisation. His very inventive band mates— drummer Mark Ferber and bassist Johannes Wedenmueller—lay down a framework the leaves room for interaction and response.

Throughout there is a sense of stealthy exploration, where open, chordless space says nearly as much as the players. A nod to Charlie Parker, "Extralogical Lense," sounds like Bird filtered through an Ornette Coleman lense. The title tune creeps in on a turgid bass groove, then lurches into a higher, frantic gear, O'Gallagher blowing clean clear lines through a rhythmic maelstom.

The continuity of mood, the melodic beauty, the intricate interplay and the sharply focused vision makes The Honeycomb a superb and assured trio outing.

Track Listing

Uroboros; Extralogical Railman; Petulant Snot; The Honeycomb; Go Where You Are Watching; Eve Day; Kerberos; Turducken.


John O'Gallagher: alto saxophone; Johnnes Weidenmueller: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Album information

Title: The Honeycomb | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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