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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Touch and Go Sextet - Live at the Novara Jazz Festival (self-released, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Percussionist and composer Vijay Anderson's Touch and Go Sextet's Live at the Novara Jazz Festival has been languishing in my iPod for months now. This is a shame because it's an excellent piece of work that could also already be sitting in your iPods (or whatever device you prefer).

Recorded at the Novara Jazz Festival in Italy in 2012, the recording contains a set of original compositions that feature a compelling mix of improvisation and composition and a broad tonal palette. The sextet is a choice sample of West Coast musicians, that includes Aaron Bennett and Sheldon Brown on saxophones, Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Darren Johnston on trumpet, Lisa Mezzacappa on bass, and Vijay Anderson on drums.

The first track, 'Slippin'' hits hard. After an enjoyably melodic head, the group delivers a very engaging set of solos that overlap and intertwine in a complex, but accessible, manner. The follow up, 'Horriplilation' is a tune with some bite. The fun continues on 'Waldron', another upbeat song that features interleaved phrases and rhythms. The compositional elements play quite well, as the group improvisation ebbs and flows, voices contrast, and harmonies cohere in unusual ways.

Overall, there is a motion that can be felt throughout the tunes, always moving forward in undulating waves. The opening to 'Delusions' features a long saxophone solo with minimal percussive swells for a majority of its 12 minutes. 'Swift Horse' begins with Anderson carefully building up excitement, unaccompanied on percussion, leading to an exciting set of both individual improvisations and interesting group moments. There are many sides to this group, and over the course of the generous run time, you get to hear them all.

Check out this album, the sextet goes for a big, dynamic and multilayered sound that is infectious with its inventiveness and fire.

Listen and download from Bandcamp.