Friday, September 7, 2007
John Tchicai - Witch's Scream (TUM Records, 2007) **½
If three of the top players of the early years of free jazz join forces on a new album, then expectations run high. Saxophonist John Tchicai, 71 years old, has been part in shaping the European free jazz scene, bassist Reggie Workman, 70, has made a name for himself with musicians such as Coltrane and Shepp, Andrew Cyrille, 67, has played the drums for many years with luminaries such as Cecil Taylor and John Carter. You expect fireworks, yet it turns out the other way. The three play like they have nothing left to prove, and the record sounds like a nice enough excursion, but without any real surprises, without any power, without salt, without pepper. The CD has its good moments, especially in the improvizations, like on the first track, but then comes "Monk's Dream", with vocals by Tchicai who unfortunately cannot sing. It sounds sympathetic enough at first, yet it becomes irritating very quickly, and as well on other tracks such as "Proximity" and "Alice In Wonderland". Yet the trio ends the album like they started : well. The last piece "The Current" is luckily also the longest track, but it makes it even more frustrating because it demonstrates what the rest could have been. But again, maybe my expectations were too high to start with.