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When Leroy Jenkins brought his AACM ways with him to New York, he altered that city’s musical landscape forever. Bringing the New Thing as the Chicagoans played it, he formed a trio that survived through the ‘70’s. On bass, Sirone brought an authority and skill level that landed him in Cecil Taylor’s band. Multi-dimensional drummer Jerome Cooper occasionally rose from the drum stool to sit the piano bench, a walk he later eliminated bringing synthesizers into his drum set. Here, formed in the strange halcyon days of Nixon’s war on everyone, the trio embraced musical radicalism. The ensemble played music as rich in emotion and beauty as experimentation.
Jenkins and Sirone hold bowed while Cooper shakes bells and rattles to open “Invasion.” On drums he races, with Sirone dropping the bow and plucking after him. Jenkins takes the bait and soon all three raise a storm. Sirone brings it down for a hard rubber solo, nearly handing off to Jenkins’ viola. He creates a sublime acapella aria. A rough edit causes a duet with Cooper on piano and Sirone to abruptly commence. After their fruitful interplay, Jenkins rejoins and Cooper relights the furnace in his drum set. Their tempestuous finale keeps the 27 minute piece fresh till the end.
Sirone’s “Hu-Man” features a relatively traditional trio setting with Jenkins soulful in solo. Cooper keeps punching the edges until the riff comes apart and the Ensemble moves into new territory. Their substantial group improv never loses momentum or inspiration.
Sirone’s cool bass intro on “Collegno” becomes a framework for Jenkins and Cooper’s unisons and differences. Sirone and Cooper on piano throw lines back and forth. Jenkins plays at Sirone’s pace with color by Cooper, the string players chopping up their attack like cole slaw. Sirone goes for a bowed low long tone that grows raw.
This trio took the original release pressing of The Psyche on a tour of Europe and sold all of it. Thirty years later, through the miracle of laser technology, the second pressing is finally seeing its full American release.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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