All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

113

Terrence McManus / Mark Helias / Gerry Hemingway: Transcendental Numbers

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Terrence McManus helms a stellar trio on Transcendental Numbers, through six collective concoctions recorded in New York City's The Stone, straddling and blurring the line between textural improvisation and the more traditional sound of guitar and rhythm section. Brooklyn-born McManus is carving a niche for himself on the scene. Having worked with drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey, and performed with fellow guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist John Zorn, McManus is currently a member of drummer Gerry Hemingway's quintet, and finds his boss returning the favor here.

With an association dating back more than 33 years, the synergy of Hemingway and bassist Mark Helias is a wonder to behold. The pair first came together in the orbit of reed man Anthony Braxton, but they have been featured in each others bands many times since, most notably the cooperative BassDrumBone, along with trombonist Ray Anderson. Alongside their vast experience they also wield an armory of extended techniques which they delve into with gusto, making this a set which would also have been fascinating to witness live.

The breadth of unconventional sounds for guitar trio is reminiscent of guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil with Totem> on Solar Forge (ESP, 2008), though the overall ethos is not one of such complete deconstruction. Even though there are passages when there is no hint of tune, melody or meter, there is still a sense of form and trajectory, whether it is the steadily increasing crescendo of "When We First Left The Oceans" or the bell-shaped curve of "The Radio Astronomers." While the threesome flaunts the intensity of a power trio the density is reduced, so there is lots of air in many of the pieces which allows full appreciation of the constituent parts.

At times the bass and drums slip into their regular roles as on "Upperside" where McManus builds a statement of incisive, insistent phrases and broad slashes over a conversational mid-tempo. Likewise on "Junction" mournful horn-like phrasing from the guitar with blues intimations sparks a loose choppy groove from Helias and Hemingway and an impromptu riff from McManus. "Products of Primes" deals in flinty improv with the bassist's sweeping arco prominent, pitched against white noise guitar and thudding percussion, before evolving into a propulsive churn.

Transcendental Numbers shows where the guitar trio might go without totally severing the links to the instrument's vernacular.

Track Listing: Written in the Cracking of the Ice; Upperside; Junction; Products of Primes; The Radio Astronomers; When We First Left The Oceans.

Personnel: Terrence McManus: guitar; Mark Helias: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums.

Title: Transcendental Numbers | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read The Groove Hunter CD/LP/Track Review
The Groove Hunter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Powered by Life CD/LP/Track Review
Powered by Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Mephiti CD/LP/Track Review
Mephiti
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Doug Collette
Published: May 23, 2018
Read "In-House Science" CD/LP/Track Review In-House Science
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 9, 2018
Read "Inspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Inspiration
by Chris May
Published: May 6, 2018
Read "A Social Call" CD/LP/Track Review A Social Call
by James Nadal
Published: May 25, 2017
Read "Time for the Dancers" CD/LP/Track Review Time for the Dancers
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "The Other Side of Time" CD/LP/Track Review The Other Side of Time
by Kevin Press
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "The Wishing Stones" CD/LP/Track Review The Wishing Stones
by John Kelman
Published: November 28, 2017