Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

While We Still Have Bodies: While We Still Have Bodies

Tyran Grillo By

Sign in to view read count
While We Still Have Bodies names the collaboration of trombonist Ben Gerstein, bassist Sean Ali, saxophonist Michael Foster, and percussionist Flin van Hemmen. The more one listens to their spontaneous creations, however, the less important such roster division becomes, receding in deference to forces without proper name. To achieve such effect is no small task, for it requires a selflessness that can only come from musicians who understand themselves.

In this hour-long free improvisation consisting of tape collages, lo-fi electronics, and acoustic instruments, we encounter far more than any such description could express. The overall effect is born of specific impulses, each more integrated than the last, until the sounds coalesce, golem-like, into a living organism. Said organism absorbs agency from its surroundings in microscopic amounts until its entire body is self-sufficient and ready to crawl. Over time, it stands upright, conveys its intentions through gesture, and, in a way, speaks. Its songs range from tactile onslaughts of cellular information to drone-like textures of divination. At any given moment, there is something to give us purchase, as if we are standing in the middle of an environment that never sleeps, and of which we are being granted merest glimpses.

As one settles in, sources become apparent: an aggressively bowed double bass, the tinkling of metallic percussion, the fuzzy grammar of a distorted guitar, an overblown reed, a breathy trombone. Yet these morphemes follow more than dictate any sort of grand design, content to blend humbly into the collective woodwork. The result is music that develops in an uncannily psychoanalytical fashion, seeming to bore into the depths of childhood traumas as a means of dissolving their poisons. Thus, when familiar elements—interview clips and other soundbites—bob to the surface, they feel torn from the archives of a repressed past. Our role as listeners, then, becomes not to pick apart individual elements like sonic detectives but to offer ourselves as objects of investigation. The densest sections therefore come across not as burials but as exhumations, while quieter passages bleed, all-consuming in their reflective power. Field recordings present the most confrontational moments, as if asserting the continuity of nature over the ephemerality of those flitting through its confines in so-called lives.

None of this is meant to imply that the music is in any way dark or cynical. Only that, as masterful as it is, it is not about mastery at all, but points rather to the unnamed musician in the room: creativity itself. It's as if everything we hear in this context were an inevitability that already has a voice, one that would carry on even without our bodies to amplify it. The result is an exercise in humility that pulls us into its gravitational vortex without discrimination. Because all of us are equal when physics rule the day.

Track Listing: 1:06:23

Personnel: Ben Gerstein: trombone, radio, cell phone; Sean Ali: double bass, cassette player; Michael Foster; tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, cassette player; Flin Van Hemmen,: percussion, mp3 player.

Title: While We Still Have Bodies | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Neither/nor Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Everything's OK CD/LP/Track Review
Everything's OK
by Doug Collette
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones Pridefully, Idiotically, Prosaically CD/LP/Track Review
Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones...
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Legacy CD/LP/Track Review
Legacy
by Doug Collette
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Other Life Forms CD/LP/Track Review
Other Life Forms
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Live At Moods CD/LP/Track Review
Live At Moods
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read "Desert" CD/LP/Track Review Desert
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 13, 2018
Read "Village Life" CD/LP/Track Review Village Life
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 31, 2018
Read "Nightconcert" CD/LP/Track Review Nightconcert
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 13, 2018
Read "Time Remembered: Standards and Other Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Time Remembered: Standards and Other Songs
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 24, 2018
Read "Colours Of Your Love: Wild Silk Strings Project" CD/LP/Track Review Colours Of Your Love: Wild Silk Strings Project
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 6, 2018
Read "Strings 1" CD/LP/Track Review Strings 1
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 10, 2018