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John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble: Volume 2

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John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble: Volume 2
An incendiary outfit returns for a second volume (perhaps the second set?) of free jazz mayhem from London's Cafe Oto, recorded in February 2019. It comprises four players, each with a big sound, regardless of amplification, and a big personality to match—Amsterdam-based American John Dikeman, on tenor saxophone, and the British threesome of Pat Thomas (hailed by drummer Tyshawn Sorey as one of the best in the world, following their duet in the 2023 London Jazz Festival) on piano, John Edwards on bass and Steve Noble on drums. Not surprisingly Volume 2 reprises many of the virtues of Volume 1 (577 Records, 2022), namely high energy levels, potent soloing and finely judged interaction.

Each of the principals confirms their mastery of extended form, testament to years of experience in sustaining interest over the long haul without the benefit of a route map. While, as one might expect with this line up, it delivers ferocity aplenty, it also supplements that with concurrent layers of intrigue. Partly that stems from constant recalibration, as when Dikeman momentarily echoes Thomas' bottom end hammering, listening and responding simultaneously as he plays. But it is also due to the ambiguity they engender through the product of their exchanges.

A case in point comes midway through the half-hour-plus "No," when, after a passage of percussive comping, Thomas tumbles down into a steamy rubato. It would be ballad territory were it not for the angularity and sudden flurries of bass and drums. As Thomas flows into a series of repeated glissandos, he also draws Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington (two of his pianistic idols) into his orbit. But even here, there is a hint of menace lurking in the accompanying undergrowth. And, indeed, it blooms not long after, in Dikeman's visceral explosion of overblown skronk.

A force of nature who has performed with almost every big name who passes through, including Roscoe Mitchell, Joe McPhee, Evan Parker, and Wadada Leo Smith, Edwards' arco groans, creaks and murmurs form the central thread on "Comment!," a sombre drama of fraying long tones, portentous chords and crisp rattles. However the wistful saxophone conclusion supplies a wholly unexpected ending to another top drawer outing.

Track Listing

No; Comment!.

Personnel

John Dikeman
saxophone, tenor
John Edwards
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Volume 2 | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: 577 Records


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