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The amazing quartet of saxophonist Paul Flaherty, drummer Weasel Walter, trombonist Steve Swell, and violinist C. Spencer Yeh, 4 NY-area free improvising players in an enthralling and demanding release recorded "in concert" at the old Issue Project Room in 2011.

Flaherty / Swell / Yeh / Walter
Dragonfly Breath

Flaherty / Swell / Yeh / Walter: Dragonfly Breath (Not Two Records)

Label: Not Two Records    
Released in: Poland    

"Percussionist Weasel Walter took New York by storm (would there be any other way?) when he relocated to Brooklyn from Oakland in 2010 to work with a cross-section of improvisers, composers, "jazz" and "rock" artists in both the fringes and the Cornelia Street out-mainstream. Though Walter's extreme persona and dedication to blistering no wave and free music isn't for everybody, the beyond-categorical openness with which he approaches art is a one-man microcosm for how diverse and interconnected the boroughs' creative environments can be.

Dragonfly Breath was recorded mere months after Walter's relocation, in the silo-like old Issue Project Room space in Gowanus, and joins the drummer with violinist C. Spencer Yeh (also using his voice quite liberally), alto/tenor saxophonist Paul Flaherty and trombonist Steve Swell on a program of three rousing group improvisations. Flaherty and Walter had recorded together previously in a quartet (End of the Trail, ugEXPLODE 32). Walter and Swell would go on to perform in an unsurprisingly garrulous trio with bassist Max Johnson, notably dusting up the Union Square Whole Foods in 2012.

A burnished and squirrelly harrier whose alto and tenor voices are garish and lusty, Flaherty should be in the pantheon of modern paint-peelers, though his music often has been boxed in with "noise" and "New Weird America" rather than jazz-derived improvisation. The same could easily be said of Yeh and Walter, both of whom get tagged with the "experimental/rock" moniker despite their total commitment to improvisation - Yeh's violin sounding like an amplified, pedal-assisted Ramsey Ameen to Walter's Shannon Jackson-inspired active thrust. Flaherty's white-hot brays and obsessive curlicues, coupled with Swell's brash and verbose slide, make for a tough horn partnership, but in actuality Dragonfly Breath might count among the deeper-listening dates in Walter's discography. The drummer may have a penchant for "fire in a pet store" improvisation, and such pyrotechnics are plentiful, but the quartet's potency lies within a spare ranginess absent any traditional rhythmic hookups.

Dragonfly Breath also exhibits an international approach, drawing equally from both post-Ayler American traditions and European free music. This is something that Walter has put forth repeatedly, and all four musicians came up in an era where ESP and FMP vinyl was equally available to anybody with dedicated ears. Limited to violin and horns, the music might seem top-heavy at first blush, though each player is quite aware of balancing tonal low and high ends. Dragonfly Breath is a blisteringly beyond-category document, and should hold an estimable place in the discographies of all four musicians for years to come."-Clifford Allen, Point of Departure

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Quartet Recordings

Get additional information at Point of Departure

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Product Information:


Label: Not Two Records
Catalog ID: MW 890-2
Squidco Product Code: 19128

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: Poland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at The Issue Project Room in Brooklyn , New York, on May 6th, 2011 by Weasel Walter.


Paul Flaherty-tenor saxophone, alto saxophone

Steve Swell-trombone

C. Spencer Yeh-violin, voice

Weasel Walter-drums

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Track Listing:

1. Praying Mantis 20:54

2. Tarantula 9:04

3. Mosquito 17:45