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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mark Harvey Group - Mark Harvey Group (Re-release, 2007) ****

Another great re-issue on the ReRelease label, one of the early records by Mark Harvey, methodist Minister and professor at MIT, recorded live at the Harvard-Epworth Church on January 23, 1972. The music is avant-garde jazz, and relatively unique in its genre, with lots of moments of percussion only, even long moments of silence, interspaced with bursts of horns and piano for dramatic effect, or slow trumpet playing in the more contemplative parts. With Peter Bloom on reeds and percussion, Craig Ellis on percussion, Mark Harvey on brass and percussion and Michael Standish on percussion. The CD consists of two parts : "Invocation" and "Tarot, The Moon". The former starts with all kinds of percussions, slow, almost zen-like, comparable to what Andrea Centazzo would do later on his albums, with improvized sax laying a plaintive tune over it, accompanied by a trumpet in the distance (whether that was the idea, or just the result of poor recording conditions, is hard to tell). It is totally free improv, with no sense of direction, just in the moment ideas which surface one after the other, but to the musicians credit, they manage to keep the whole concept very coherent, accessible and captivating. "Tarot", starts with dramatic piano chords with accompanying trumpet, evolving into almost total silence, with light bell sounds to give this silence more depth. As Mark Harvey explains : "Our own collective improvisational approach worked from minimal conceptual and/or orchestrational frameworks that gave an identity to each specific piece, yet left enormous space for fresh development and essentially the creation of a new composition in each performance. As many improvisers did in that period, we performed in almost total darkness, save for illumination from one or two candles. Sets went as long as the music demanded, and the same for individual selections." Again, a more than worthwhile re-issue by the new label. Recommended.

You can listen and download from iTunes and other sites (for 7 euro).