The former recording demonstrated how structure can be created during improvisation, while the latter how more- or-less composed music with structure can be the foundational basis for improvisation. The record at hand mixes the two concepts thoroughly, so much so that, with help from the liner, one would be hard pressed to tell which tracks are composed and which are completely improvised.
For this record, tenor saxophonist Rich Halley's quartet (trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Carson Halley) are joined by master improviser Vinny Golia, who seems to play every reed instrument, but who here sticks to the bottom with baritone saxophone and bass clarinet. Golia is very widely recorded both as a leader (see this listing) and as a sideman (see bassist Adam Lane's Buffalo for a particularly smoking example).
The quintet (the extra reed does allow for different textures) gives their all on seven Halley compositions and three group improvisations. The sound is crisp, clean and brimming with energy. As before, most of the music has a rhythmic foundation (i.e. groove of some kind), so the free blowing, when it happens, is within a rhythmic structure.
The music always has enormous forward energy, which when combined with the intelligence of the compositions and the supreme mastery of the players, produces a listening experience akin to a surrender. There is not much to do but to let this music carry one away; there is power, fun, deep groove and intricate interplay galore. Repeated listens only cement this terrific band deeper into the ears and mind.
The Outlier by itself is a dynamite record, and is highly recommended; the three record set is a dynamite evening.
Track Listing: Recipe for Improvisers; Urban Crunch; Around the Fringes; Green Needles; Du Fu’s
Stew; Long Blue Road; Rising From the Plains; The Way Through; Reciprocity; The
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