Veteran improvisers from three generations come together for sophisticated sounds as if they've been coordinating group improvisation all their lives — which in a way they have. Tenor saxophonist Joe McPhee, 84, has been involved in Free Jazz since the late 1960s; trombonist Steve Swell, 69, has been a creative music mainstay since the late 1970s; and Chris Corsano, 48, has perfected his skills since the millennium.
Negotiating the variables implicit in these instant compositions, each player knows exactly when to come in and when to lay out, whether the interaction involves miniscule unaccented air timbres projected by the horn players or their reinforcement to frenetic squawks and smears driven by the drummer's kit battering. Transcending flashiness with finesse, the three also ensure that logic is applied with horizontal momentum preserved.
Tone deference means that when Swell plays a squirming portamento line as on "Welcome to the Dancing Notes", McPhee's contrapuntal refrain involves moderated grace notes backed by Corsano's restrained pops. If on "Nasty Butter" the trombonist's hearty gutbucket slurs slide to basement growls, then the saxophonist's harsh vibrations create tandem low pitches. Still the polyphony expressed often includes blues suggestions, confirming the lyricism hidden behind extended techniques. With "Open that Other Can of Worms" Corsano begins not with invertebrates, but paradiddles, pops and ruffs that set up Swell's whinnying and McPhee's near-vocalized squeals in response.
Innovative improvising means that at points horn players extrude atom-sized notes or drawn-out unaccented air forced through the horn's body tubes that eventually splutter into tandem howls and cries. More crucially there are passages where interwoven timbres include so many pivots, stops, detours and slides that it sounds as if more horns than two are featured.
A tripartite melding of minds, the disc proves that Sometimes The Air Is ... right for stacked sonic invention from three generations of creative players.
Comments and Feedback: