In Europe you have a lot of national free jazz scenes exchanging experiences, playing together, supporting each other. It started in the late 1960s with Western Germany (Brötzmann, Kowald, Schlippenbach e.g.), Great Britain (Parker, Oxley, Bailey among others) and the Netherlands (Bennink, Mengelberg, Breuker etc.) and over the years scenes in France, Italy, Scandinavia, Poland, even in Portugal, Switzerland and Lithuania and other countries have developed sustainably. If you have a look at the US almost everything seems to be concentrated in New York, it is still the (free) jazz capital. Peter Evans once told me that there were lots of possibilities to perform, although it was a real shark tank, where many musicians compete for a limited number of gigs. But not everything is centered on the east coast, the west coast, namely Los Angeles and the bay area, has had a vivid scene for many years, too.
“Hell-Bent in the Pacific” is a classic, almost old-fashioned free jazz album recorded by some of the west coast’s finest improvisers: Vinny Golia (tenor, sopranino and soprano saxophones; Bb and bass clarinet), Marco Eneidi (alto sax), Lisa Mezzacappa (bass), and Vijay Anderson (drums). The tracks are shaped around an axis of track one, six and nine, the only pieces where all the members of the quartet are involved. Especially “Meteorites”, the first track, and “Catholic Comstocking Smut-Hound”, the last one, are like a frame keeping the album together. Both pieces are breathless to some extent, especially the sound of the saxophones is agonizing (you have to get used to it), but the musicianship is absolutely masterful. The other tracks are mainly trios, very often they start as duos and then fray delicately into some sort of reflective chamber music. Also, some of them are deeply rooted in the tradition of Albert Ayler’s and Ornette Colemans groundbreaking recordings (“Spiritual Unity” and “Live at the Golden Circle”). The most interesting tracks are two of these trios: “Prisoner of Gaudy and Unlivable Present” and “Lop-sided Heels and Frayed Shoes”, both delicate and refined pieces, growing, imploding. Golia presents himself in a line that goes back to the great John Coltrane, making a bow to the master’s spirituality.
However, the real sensation are not the leading reed-players Golia and Eneidi, it is the rhythm section. Mezzacappa and Anderson are the engine room that keeps the ship rolling - whether the sea is calm or rough. They do an unexcited job, sometimes rolling, sometimes whispering, always communicating and reliable, “Hell-Bent in the Pacific”, so to say. It seems unbelievable that a Lithuanian label has to put these guys together for the first time.
You can buy it from instantjazz.com.