Thomas Borgmann's trio with Wilbur Morris and Denis Charles, though short-lived, was one of the top creative improvising jazz units of the last several years. After Charles death the group reformed into its current incarnation with Reggie Nicholson filling the drum chair. Recordings made before the earlier trio's demise are documents to treasure and this recording taped in the sonically inviting confines of the Spirit Room finds the original three in top form with the added wildcard factor of the iconic Brotzmann sitting in. Borgmann and Brotzmann had recorded together before (Blue Zoo on Konnex), but never under such favorable conditions as these, and the disc is notable for the opportunity to hear the two lock horns at length. The presence of Morris and Charles as the rhythm section makes the date indispensable.
Borgmann and Brotzmann blaze brightly on both pieces like blowtorches, superheating their improvisations with white-hot intensity. Brotzmann's brass balls and bronze lungs are in full effect and his usual dour lamentations are tempered at times with an almost hopeful bent. This mitigated aura of optimism is most audible when he hoists the taragoto to his mustachioed lips. On tenor he reverts back to his characteristic burly histrionics. Ropy braids of dissonance spout from his horn and his raw tone remains the personification of uncompromising integrity. Borgmann's approach is more varied and less reliant on naked emotion though he sometimes tries to match the brute force of Brotzmann's barbarous yawp. His lines frequently twist and dance across the roiling rhythmic backdrop offered by Morris' muscular strums and Charles sentorian drums, particularly when he switches to keening sopranino.
Both of the disc's improvisations are over a half-hour in length apiece, but their duration dissipates swiftly. Each is structured around a string of solos and though the logical emphasis is placed firmly on the horns, both Charles and Morris move to the fore on occasion and turn in engrossing passages of their own. Charles plethoric solo on "Part 1" is especially absorbing.
Overall "Part 2" is more cohesive structurally, benefiting from an improved microphone set-up and slightly increased dynamic range between the players, but both pieces will capture your attention and carry you along at full throttle. In the liners, Marc Rusch, the recording engineer, comments on the powerful energy forged by the four throughout the entire session. This sustained potency definitely transfers through in the recording. Listeners with a special affinity for unbridled free improvisation will find a lot to relish in the uncorked brilliance these players pour forth.
Track Listing: Stalker Songs Part 1/ Stalker Songs Part 2.
Recorded: September 23,
1997, The Spirit Room, Rossie, New York.
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.