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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jack Wright / Ben Wright - as if anything could be the same (Relative Pitch, 2014) ****½

By Paul Acquaro

I did a little internet research on this father and son duo before I cracked open their new CD as if anything could be the same. By the time I finally plunked it into my player and the music began I had already formed a rather positive feeling towards both musicians. I was taken by saxophonist Jack Wright's uncompromising story: his moves between the East Coast and the mountains of Colorado, his work in academia and subsequent move into performing free jazz, and enjoyed his DIY take on music and art. Bassist Ben Wright was a little harder to find out about, but even from the bits I read on Spring Garden, I found myself intrigued by his punk rock roots and current work out in New Mexico. 

So, I had really set my expectations up for this new album, and I wasn't disappointed. Restless and searching, as if anything could be the same is the outcome of two deeply connected musicians acting and reacting to each other with their instruments, unafraid to stretch boundaries. 

The tracks, improvisations broken up and named after each word of the album title, are each self contained showcases of free jazz experimentalism. The two musicians share a language comprised of staccato passages, breathy space, and intense workouts, that while unpredictable and full of surprises, is imbued with meaning and understanding. When Jack produces a percussive stanza, Ben responds in kind, not repeating it but acknowledging and proposing the next step.

It would almost be a futile, and certainly a long winded task to explain each track. Rather, it's suffice to say that the saxophonist and upright bassist work both within and outside their instrument's more traditional ranges and roles, often slipping into extended techniques and forms. They are always on equal ground, supporting and propelling each other through an eclectic, engaging and energetic set of free improvisations. In a way, it's everything I had expected from exploring the musicians bios but nothing like I had ever heard before. Highly recommended!

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jeff said...

Nice to see mention of Jack here. I played with him at his house once back when he was in Colorado. I was hoping to play more with him, but at that time he was planning his move back East.