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Revolutionary Ensemble: The Psyche

Rex  Butters By

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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.


Track Listing: Invasion (Cooper) 26:15; Hu-man (Jones) 8:04; Collegno (Jenkins) 13:00.

Personnel: Jerome Cooper - drums piano; Leroy Jenkins - violin, viola; Norris Sirone Jones - bass.

Title: The Psyche | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Mutable Music


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