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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Michael Bisio - Circle This (CIMP, 2007) ****

Without a doubt Michael Bisio is one of the best and most creative bassists in the free jazz genre today. On this album he is assisted by two sax players, Avram Fefer and Stephen Gauci, and by Jay Rosen on drums, a promising line-up I would say. The album starts in a boppish mode, with the horns bringing a short unisono theme, which moves into a soprano solo, supported by the bass, which increases the tempo and once a summit of tension is achieved, the whole thing dwindles down into a slow drum solo, which in turn invites bass and horns back into the theme, back into the same mood, but now the tenor is brought to an uptempo summit of tension, wonderfully accentuated by the drums, and the whole thing collapses again for a bass solo. I will not describe every track, but suffice it to say that the music is excellent, the bass is the pivotal point around which the music circles, both horns are really a great match for each other throughout the record, and Rosen is his usual subtle self. There is beauty to be found in the melodies and the interplay, softness and tension, creative thoughts and perfect execution. There is great respect for the jazz tradition, and "Island Circus" is a perfect example of this, it could have been penned by Ornette Coleman. By the way, the tenor sounds at moments like Ethopian saxophonist Mulate Astatqe, but also a little middle-eastern. The most beautiful composition is the 10-minute long "The Fighting", which starts slow with Bisio on arco and the horns playing the theme with intervals, moving away from it for some simultaneous circling around it, but bass and drums call them back to the main theme, revving up the tempo a bit, to move one tenor into a sensitive solo, transitioning perfectly to the other tenor after a while, which equals the power of its predecessor. The record's real power is the perfect balance between composition and free form, between horns and rhythm section, between form and emotion. Great!