The Alchemia, in Krakow, Poland, has long been the venue for a series of free jazz and improvised music concerts. The lineup never flags for want of extraordinary musicians, and time has witnessed the likes of Ken Vandermark
, Barry Guy
, William Parker
and Peter Brötzmann
on that stage. Alto saxophonist André Goudbeek, bassist Peter Jacquemyn and percussionist Lê Quan Ninh, who recorded this CD at the club in October 2008, fit right into its ambience.
Before coming together for this date, each musician had set up his own credentials with others. Goudbeek, a staple of the Belgian free jazz scene, has cast a wide net as part of the Werkgroup Improviserende Muzikanten (Association of Improvising Musicians) (WIM) and as a member of Chris McGregor
's Brotherhood of Breath, besides having played with John Tchicai
and Barre Phillips
A man of many talents, Jacquemyn is a longtime member of WIM, where he has played with an array of improvisers (including Goudbeek) and dancers. No situation is alien to his wants; Jacquemyn moves into the ambit and creates his own spellbinding presence, his creativity extending to sculpture as an artist who shapes wood with a chainsaw.
A classically trained percussionist, Ninh has created a niche of his own, venturing into improvised music and then going on to form ensemble] h[iatus, a band that casts itself as both interpreters and improvisers.
Given their individual dispositions, it is not surprising that these three ultimately gravitated towards each other; that is the first part of the equation. The second is how they work in seamless consonance to make a strong stylistic impression.
The logistics of live performance call for a band to lure the audience into its fold, and this trio does just that on the aptly titled "Attention!"triggering, over the course of 44 minutes, an impassioned array of sounds and motifs. The context is emblazoned by Goudbeek through heated lines that twist and squirm, his playing inspired as he keeps the dynamics taut and bluster at bay. Ninh extends the scope and body, his array of percussion adding a discerning pungent punch as easily as it does flitting accents and the lilt of bells. Jacquemyn keeps the beat largely grounded with thick notes, loosening up to infuse triplets and pizzicato lines. The dimension is wide, the mood atmospheric, and the impact indelible.
"Pasop!" begins with a gentle, at times sublime air on bass clarinet. Goudbeek switches to alto for a line of on-the-spur changes, digging deep into the groove, urged on by the rhythm men who soon come into their own.
Three inspired improvisers on two magnetic tracks make for one highly entertaining CD.