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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thomas Borgmann, Wilber Morris & Denis Charles - Live in Poland (Not Two, 2013) ****

By Stef

Sometimes it's great that albums get re-issued, but this one is somewhat special, because the original vinyl album was released on the Italian Sagittarius label only three years ago. For the "why vinyl?" critics this will be a treat - a real CD with the same concert that took place in Poland in March 1998.

The trio is Thomas Borgmann on sax, the late Wilber Morris on bass, and the late Dennis Charles on drums.

This is without a doubt free jazz at its best - it soars, it sings, it dances, it goes deep into tribal origins, creates magical musical interaction, applauded and encouraged by a very present audience, pushing the three musicians onward and forward, in directions they themselves may not have anticipated, yet which are very memorable.

On the long opening track "Bird Bath", the trio moves from contemplative harmonica playing - in the style of Don Cherry's melodica-playing - over tribal polyrhythmics with pumping bass and rejoicing soprano to a kind of crowd-pleasing interaction of drum beats and audience handclapping, accompanied by shouting, ending in a heartrending and bluesy slow finale, with Borgmann switching to tenor.

Listeners interested in the trio will mark the difference with their version of the same composition on their "The Last Concert - Dankeschön" (Silkheart, 2000). Same song, completely different performance.

The second track is "Nasty & Sweet", also on the Silkheart album, but here starting with Borgmann on ocarina, then tenor,with bowed bass sucking the listener into a more contemplative mood, full of ominous darkness, released into gutwrenching cries on the horn, supported by Charles' loose percussive foundation, as if this was the outro of a longer piece, but gradually the intensity and the volume increase into a soaring continued avalanche of deep emotional outbursts.

The album finishes with "One By One", which itself starts with a subdued funky tenor solo intro with gospel sentiment, then followed by a drums solo, and then - as you can deduct from the title - a bass solo. Simple and great.

What makes the album equally recommendable is the great sound quality, which gives the bass for once a very clear voice.

In sum, great music, great fun, great audience.

Available at